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THE present work consists chiefly of a reproduction of 
certain articles (with additions and corrections) contri- 
buted by me to various religious periodicals during the 
last few years. .It treats of some curious Pseudepi- 
graphal Jewish and Christian writings composed in the 
times immediately preceding or following the commence- 
ment of the Christian era, and aims at giving a succinct 
account of these productions for readers who are not 
familiar with the originals. The books comprised in 
our English Bibles under the name of " Apocrypha " 
are excluded, as they have been sufficiently examined of 
late years, and commentaries upon them are readily 
available. Some of the works treated in this volume 
are comparatively unknown to English readers, but those 
(like the Book of Enoch) which have obtained more 
currency among us could not be omitted from our 
survey, especially as they form an integral part of the 
literature of the period, and are often referred to and 
cited. The whole of the writings here examined have 




not hitherto been collected into one volume. The 
original text or versions of some of them have been 
printed in Fabricius' Codex Pseudepigraplms Veteris 
Testamenti ; and in Fritzsche's Libri ApocrypJii Vet. 
Test.; the others have been published by various editors 
at various times, as noted in the following accounts. 




The Psalter of Solomon, .... 25 


The Book of Enoch, ....... 49 

The Assumption of Moses, ..... 95 

The Apocalypse of JBaruch, ..... 130 

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, . . .162 


The Book of Jubilees, ' ...... 193 

The Ascension of Isaiah, ...... 236 


The Sibylline Oracles, . . 276 



IN the times immediately preceding and succeeding the 
commencement of the Christian era there arose among 
the Jews a style of writing to which the name Pseudepi- 
graphic has been given, because most of the works so 
composed appeared under the assumed name of some 
famous person. They must not be considered in the 
light of literary forgeries ; they are not like Macpherson 
with his Ossian, or Chatter ton with his Rowley, fraud- 
ulent attempts at imposture ; but the authors, having 
something to say which they deemed worthy of the 
attention of contemporaries, put it forth under the aegis 
of a great name, not to deceive, but to conciliate favour. 
A writer who ventured to appropriate a celebrated title 
would take care to satisfy the expectations raised by his 
pseudonym, and readers would believe that no one would 
dare to challenge comparison with a great original who 
was not qualified to sustain the character assumed. The 
most familiar instance is, perhaps, the book known as 
the Wisdom of Solomon, wherein the writer assumes the 
person of the great Israelite king, certainly with no idea 
of deceiving his readers (for the language of the treatise, 
the date and place of its composition, alike forbid any 
notion of fraud), but with the view of supporting his 



opinions by the highest authority, and as embodying 
sentiments which are such as the son of David might 
have enunciated. A similar impersonation is familiar to 
us in the Book of Ecclesiastes, where Koheleth utters 
his varied experiences through the mouth of Solomon, 
" son of David, king in Jerusalem." Such a use of fiction 
has been common in all ages ; it is found in classical 
authors. Plato and Cicero introduced real characters as 
vehicles for supporting or opposing their views. The 
Apologies of Socrates, the speeches in Thucydides and 
Livy, are never deemed to be intentional deceptions ; 
the animus decipiendi is lacking ; and though they utter 
the words of the writers, and not those of the persons 
represented, no one sees in them fraud and chicanery, 
but every one regards them as legitimate examples of 
dramatic personation. The Old Testament authors do 
not prefix their names to their works, as they write, not 
for self-glorification, but to serve far higher purposes. 
The only exception to this rule is found in the case of 
the prophets, whose names and credentials were neces- 
sarily required, in order to give weight and credibility to 
their announcements. In accordance with this practice 
the uninspired apocalyptic writers publish their visions 
and lucubrations under the appellation of some earlier 
worthy, whom with transparent impersonation they 
introduce into their compositions. They might also 
claim the authority of the titles of many books in the 
Old Testament which are presented under the names of 
authors who certainly did not write them. No one 
supposes that Euth or Esther composed the books which 
bear their names, and very little of the two books of 


Samuel are the work of that great prophet. The 
Psalmists adopted the designations of David, or Asaph, 
or the sons of Korah, because they echoed the spirit or 
employed the forms found in their prototypes. Those 
who followed the footsteps of these great predecessors, 
without their claim to inspiration, thought themselves 
justified in winning attention to their utterances by 
adventitious means, and boldly personated the eminent 
characters in whose spirit they wrote. 1 

At the cessation of prophecy among the Jews, when 
no longer the utterances of inspired seers denounced 
abuses, pointed the right way, proclaimed the will of 
God, great attention was paid by devout men to the 
study and interpretation of canonical Scripture. In 
contrast with the heathenism of surrounding nations, the 
Hebrew pored over his Heaven-sent law, and, by atten- 
tion thereto, confirmed his abhorrence of idolatry and his 
adherence to his monotheistic faith. The degradation of 
Israel under its pagan oppressors, and the temporary 
triumph of the chosen people in the Maccabean period, 
gave rise to the apocalyptic literature of which we are 
speaking. An unswerving zeal for the Law, and a 
glowing hope of a happy future, formed the character- 
istics of this period. From the storm and tumult and 
confusion of their own times good men looked forward to 
a reign of peace and happiness, and strove to impart 
their own hopes to their desponding countrymen. 
Taking their tone from, and founding their views upon, 
the ancient prophets, and more especially employing the 
imagery and developing the annunciations of Daniel, 
1 See Dr. Ederslieim, Life and Times of Jesus, i. 37 f. 


these writers, under various forms, and with very 
different success, gradually put forth their notions of the 
future, and anticipate the kingdom of Messiah. Often 
in their treatises they enter on the history of the past, 
putting their words into the mouth of an ancient 
prophet ; but all such details are preparatory to the 
predictive portion, and lead up to this important element. 
The grand destiny which awaits Israel fills their minds ; 
they dream of an universal judgment, followed by the 
supremacy of the chosen people ; they are fired with an 
enthusiasm which is not fettered by probabilities, and 
they boldly announce events as certain which they have 
no real claim to foretell, and which nothing but an imagina- 
tive and ardent zeal could have induced them to publish. 
The value of these writings is considerable, and this 
for many reasons ; but that which chiefly concerns us is 
the light which they throw upon Jewish belief at the 
most important era. Those which are plainly antecedent 
to Christian times have their own special utility ; while 
the later productions, which belong to the first Christian 
centuries, show the influence of new ideas even on those 
who retained their affection for the old religion. And 
both series are necessary for every study of the religious 
history of the Jews. It is perhaps true that this 
apocalyptic literature was regarded with little favour by 
the Eabbinic schools, and no dogmatic authority was 
attributed to it ; but it can be used as indicating current 
thought, just as we refer to any contemporary document 
to denote popular opinion, though it be not stamped 
with the authority of a teaching body. The number of 
these writings which are still extant, and the many more 


of which the titles only have remained to our times, 
prove the wide prevalence of the feelings which are 
embodied in them, and the profound impression which 
such thoughts had made on the hearts of the people. 
Omitting the works which either in whole or in part 
have been submitted to modern criticism, we have 
notices of the existence of many other apocalyptic and 
pseudepigraphic compositions, whose titles pretty fairly 
explain their contents. Of course, very many of the 
works enumerated in the catalogues of extra-canonical 
writings are of Christian origin ; but even these are 
framed on the same lines as the earlier, and very often 
repeat the ideas and give expression to the hopes found 
in the others. In the Fourth Book of Esdras, which is 
called the Second in our English Bibles, the sacred 
books are counted as ninety-four, twenty-two of which 
would be the received items of the Jewish Canon, and 
seventy-two apocryphal. These last, which in round 
numbers are called seventy, were directed to be reserved 
for the wise among the people ; " for in them is the 
spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and 
the stream of knowledge." 1 Hilgenfeld 2 reckons the 
number of those whose titles have survived at thirty-six. 
Many of these, however, would scarcely come under our 
view as Jewish productions, being of gnostic or heretical 
origin, and are rather to be reckoned among New Testa- 
ment pseudepigrapha. The term applied to the books 

1 2 Esdr. xiv. 44-47. Some Latin MSS., instead of " ninety-four," 
give " nine hundred and four ; " the Vulgate lias " two hundred and 
four ; " other versions, " ninety - four," which from what follows 
seems to be correct. 

2 In Herzog's Encyklop. xii. 341 ff. (ed. 1883). 


with which we are concerned is used by Jerome in 
allusion to the Wisdom of Solomon, and has thence come 
to be employed for the whole class, though not strictly 
true of them all. In his preface to the Books of 
Solomon, Jerome says, " Fertur et Panasretos Jesu filii 
Sirach liber, et alius pseudepigraphus, qui sapientia 
Salomonis inscribitur." Not that Jerome invented the 
word which so happily describes the leading character- 
istic of such productions. It is found in Greek authors 
long before his time. Thus Polybius (Hist. xxiv. 5. 5) 
calls the tricksy and unreliable Messenian, Deinocrates, 
tyevSeirlypatyos KOI PMTTIKOS. Spuriousness of authorship 
belongs to most of the series, and is a mark of the 
writings which were produced in such luxuriance towards 
the time of the commencement of the Christian era ; and 
a term denoting this peculiarity may well be adopted as 
their designation. 

The documents fall naturally into three classes. The 
first, of which few representatives have reached us, may 
be called Lyrical. There is a spurious production of this 
nature assigned to David in the Apostolical Constitutions, 1 
but it is no longer extant. The only important con- 
tribution to this class is the Psalter of Solomon, a 
collection of eighteen psalms, written probably originally 
in Hebrew, about half a century before the Christian 
era, but known to us only in a Greek version. They 
are conceived in the spirit of Old Testament prophecy, 
and are designed to console the Jews under national 
calamity by confirming their faith in future retribution 
and Messianic hopes. 

1 Apost. Constit. vi. 16. 


The second class may be called Prophetical, and may 
be divided into two sections, composed respectively of 
Apocalypses and Testaments. Apocalyptic writings are 
very numerous, the most celebrated being the Fourth 
Book of Esdras and the Book of Enoch. The former of 
these, as it forms a portion of the Apocrypha in the 
Authorised Version of our English Bible, has been copi- 
ously annotated of late years ; the latter from its length 
and importance demands special study. There are many 
others which are most interesting, and claim notice at 
our hands. The Assumption of Moses is the document 
from which, according to Origen, St. Jude borrowed his 
allusion to Michael's dispute with Satan about the body 
of Moses. It consists of an address of the great lawgiver 
to his successor Joshua, enunciating the future fate of 
Israel, partly historical down to the author's time, and 
partly predictive. The Apocalypse of Baruch is a 
different work from the Book of Baruch and the Epistle 
of Jeremy in our English Apocrypha. Written originally 
in Greek, it has been preserved only in Syriac and Latin 
versions. It contains a series of post facto predictions 
supposed to be uttered by Baruch about the time of the 
first destruction of Jerusalem, and a revelation of the 
reign and judgment of Messiah. The Ascension and 
Vision of Isaiah describe the martyrdom of the prophet 
by his being sawn asunder, an allusion to which is 
supposed to be made in Heb. xi. 37, and contain an 
account of what he saw when rapt to heaven. The 
above are the works which have come to us in a more or 
less perfect shape. There are many others of which we 
know little more than the titles which indeed are often 


very similar to those of extant productions, but appertain 
to distinct works. There is a Prophecy and Eevelation 
of the holy and beloved prophet Esdras, another of 
Baruch ; then Elijah, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, 
Habakkuk, Zechariah, have each their special Apoca- 
lypses ; a spurious Daniel also is mentioned ; and Adam, 
Lamech, Moses, and Abraham are not unrepresented, but 
contribute their revelations. Hermas Pastor l refers to a 
Prophecy of Eldad and Modat which was well known in 
the early Church ; but this with many others has perished 
long ago ; and the vague allusions to such works in the 
pages of the Fathers and in some ancient catalogues of 
Scripture do not allow us to judge of their contents and 
character. Among the productions which assume the 
testamentary form we have the titles only of some, e.g. 
the Diatheke of the Protoplast, of Jacob, Moses, Hezekiah, 
Adam, Noah, Solomon, Abraham ; the Last Prayer and 
Blessing of Joseph, a work continually quoted by Origen 
as " a writing not to be despised," and said by him to be 
in circulation among the Hebrews. But the work of this 
character that is still extant is called the Testaments of 
the Twelve Patriarchs. This is an account of the lives 
of the sons of Jacob, containing many legendary particu- 
lars not found in Scripture, revelations of the future, and 
Messianic predictions. 

The third class takes a historical or Haggadistic 
character. Its chief representative is the Book of Jubi- 
lees, or Micro-Genesis, an enlarged account of Biblical 
history down to the institution of the Passover, with the 
chronology reduced to Jubilee periods. Other works of 
1 Vis. ii. 3. 4. 


which little is known are these : the History of Jannes 
and Jambres, the magicians who opposed Moses at the 
court of Pharaoh : the Conversion of Manasses, a different 
work from the Prayer of Manasses in our Apocrypha ; 
the Life of Adam ; the Eevelation of Adam ; the Kepent- 
ance of Adam ; the Daughters of Adam ; the Gospel of 
Eve ; the Story of Asenath, Joseph's wife, and that of 
Noria, the wife of Noah. 

We have omitted mention of the Sibylline Oracles, not 
because they are of less importance than other works, but 
because they partake of the nature of all three classes, 
and cannot be assigned specially to any one of them. 
They are lyrical, being written in measured verse, and 
very often in a highly poetical strain ; they are historical, 
detailing the events in the history of various peoples 
down to Christian times, with an admixture of truth and 
fiction which is hard to unravel; and they are apoca- 
lyptic, in that they foreshadow the future of Messiah's 
kingdom and the destiny of the elect. While a large pro- 
portion of these poems is of post-Christian origin, there 
are considerable fragments of earlier date which are of 
important utility in determining prevalent Jewish views. 
Schiirer happily calls them " Jewish Propaganda under a 
heathen mask," and classes them with the so-called pro- 
ductions of Hystaspes, Hecatreus, Aristaeus, and Phocylides. 

Without anticipating details which belong to the 
special account of each of these works, we may here 
gather up some general results of the doctrine enunciated 
in them. 1 

1 I have in this sketch gladly availed myself of Prof. Drummond's 
The Jewish Messiah, and Mr. Stanton's The Jewish and Christian 


First, as to the divisions of time, we find throughout 
the books that two great periods are specified the 
present, and the future or coming age. This is in con- 
formity with the view taken in the Book of Daniel. 
The former period is one of depression and misery, when 
Israel is for a time prostrate under the heel of Gentile 
enemies ; the latter is an eternity of victory and bliss, 
when " the saints of the Most High shall receive the 
kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for 
ever and ever." 1 The temporary and the eternal periods 
are strongly contrasted, though there is no general consent 
as to the moment when the happy age shall dawn. But 
it shall be preceded by a judgment which is to take 
place in the last days, the end of the transition state, 
wherein the heathen shall receive their doom. This 
great day is known only to God ; but it shall be revealed 
in due time, and meanwhile men need not disquiet them- 
selves concerning its advent ; as it is said in the Book of 
Enoch, " Let not your spirit be grieved on account of the 
times, for the Holy One hath prescribed days to all. 
And the righteous shall arise from sleep, and walk in the 
way of righteousness, and God will be gracious unto 
them, and give them everlasting dominion." ' In the 
Psalms of Solomon we read, 3 " Behold, Lord, and raise 
up for them their king, the son of David, at the time 
which Thou, God, knowest." In the Fourth Book of 
Esdras it is said, " The Most High hath made, not one 

Messiah, though most of the articles on special pseudepigraphal 
works were originally written before I had seen those books. Since 
then I have had the pleasure of perusing Schiirer's valuable treatise 
on The Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ. 

1 Dan. vii. 18. 2 Enoch xcii. 2 ff. 3 Ps. xvii. 23. 


age, but two ; " and again, " He hath made this age for 
the sake of many, but the future for the sake of few." l 
And, " This present age is not the end . . . but the 
day of judgment will be the end of this time, and the 
beginning of the immortal age that is to come, wherein 
corruption hath passed away." 2 Attempts ,are made to 
define the length of the first period more accurately, but 
the proposed solutions do not help much to satisfy 
inquiry. The Book of Enoch in one place allots seventy 
generations to the world's history, in another divides it 
into ten weeks ; in the Assumption of Moses the be- 
ginning of the second age is placed " two hundred and 
fifty times," i.e. probably 250 weeks of years (=4250), 
after the death of Moses, A.M. 2500. This is almost the 
same result as is obtained in the Book of Jubilees. In 
the Fourth Book of the Sibylline Oracles the time is 
divided into eleven generations, 3 in the last of which the 
judgment shall take place. In the Fourth Book of Esdras 
and in the Apocalypse of Baruch the age consists of twelve 
sections, at the end of which the new era shall commence. 
Failing to define accurately the duration of the first 
age of the world, speculation concerned itself with the 
signs which should herald the approach of the last times. 

1 The former passage occurs in the fragment omitted in the old 
Latin editions and versions founded thereon, and will be found in 
Fritzsche's book as vi. 25, and in Churton's as vii. 50. In both passages 
the word rendered " age " is " sseculum," which some, however, 
translate " world." 

2 vii. 42 f. 

3 So all the MSS. Alexandre reads s; &XHTW, asserting that 
throughout the books the last generation is always the tenth, and he 
refers in confirmation to vers. 47 and 86. But see Drummond, p. 


Theorists endeavoured to answer that question which, 
quite in accordance with Jewish opinion, the apostles 
put to Christ, " Tell us, when shall these things be ? 
and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the 
consummation of the age ? " l Thus the Sibyl affirms that 
there shall be seen swords in the heaven, and storms of 
dust, and an eclipse of the sun, and armed warriors 
contending in the sky. 2 The Book of Enoch foretells 
great changes in the course of nature the alteration 
of seasons, the shortening of men's lives, irregularity 
in the course of moon and stars, and a repetition of the 
wicked practices which occasioned the Flood of old. :i 
To the same effect the Book of Jubilees looks forward 
to a season of abnormal iniquity as the precursor of the 
judgment day ; there shall be unnatural crimes among 
men, and strange aberrations in the order of nature, 
children rising up against parents, general barrenness in 
earth, great destruction of the lower creatures in land and 
sea, perversion of all right, and universal strife. 4 The 
Fourth of Esdras takes up the same strain. As the 
world grows older it becomes weaker and more evil, men 
degenerate, truth flies away, leasing is hard at hand. Then 
shall occur earthquakes, unrest and uproar among nations, 
and various prodigies in heaven and earth ; the sun shall 
shine at night, the moon in day ; blood shall ooze from 
wood ; sweet water shall be changed to salt ; women shall 
bring forth monsters ; infants of tender age shall speak. 5 

1 Matt. xxiv. 3. 2 Lib. iii. 795 ff. 

3 Chaps, xci., xcix. 4 Book of Jub. chap, xxiii. 

5 Prof. Drummond refers to 2 Esdr. v. 1-13, 54 f., vi. 7-28, viii 
63-ix. 6, xiv. 15-17. 


Many of these portents are such as one reads of 
in classical authors ; some recall our Lord's predictions, 
or St. Paul's warning that "in the last days perilous 
times shall come " (2 Tim. iii. 1). In the Apocalypse 
of Baruch the details of the wickedness and calamities 
that shall intervene are more distinctly specified, being 
divided into twelve parts, increasing to a climax of 
horror ; and despair and destruction shall overtake all 
the world with the exception of the inhabitants of the 
holy land. 1 But throughout these books the advent of 
the second age is to be ushered in by extraordinary 
calamities consequent on excessive moral evil, and char- 
acterised by an universal degeneracy alike in animal and 
vegetable life. 

"We have now to see what our books say about the 
Messiah. Many of them, indeed, seem to have no refer- 
ence whatever to Him. The writer of the Assump- 
tion of Moses expects the appearance of some great 
saviour to prepare the way for the visible reign of 
Jehovah ; but this deliverer is not the Messiah, and is. 
in fact, not regarded as superior to Moses in action or 
person. In the Book of Jubilees the idea of a personal 
Messiah is pointedly excluded; God, says the writer, has 
appointed no one to reign over Israel, being Himself 
their only Lord and Euler, and purposing in due time 
to descend from heaven and dwell with His people. The 
writer seems purposely to have omitted the blessings 
which Jacob pronounced upon his sons, and especially all 
mention of the house of David, which would naturally 
Tiave found place in the benediction on Judah. The 
1 Apoc. Bar. chaps, xxv.-xxvii., xlviii., Ixx., Ixxi. 


Fourth Book of the Sibylline Oracles, which is marked by 
some eschatological passages, omits all reference to Messiah, 
while announcing the resurrection and the judgment. 
And we may remark in passing that the apocryphal 
works in our English Bible are singularly devoid of all 
Messianic references. Ecclesiasticus has no trace of the 
great hope; Wisdom is equally barren; the famous passage 
in ii. 10-20 of that Book, about the treatment of the 
righteous man by the wicked, having regard to a class, 
and certainly not alluding to any t particular individual. 
The Books of Maccabees look forward to the re-gathering 
of Israel and the appearance of a true prophet, but 
nothing more. In Tobit we find only hope of the con- 
version of the Gentiles and the restoration of Jerusalem ; 
in Baruch and Judith, though the future judgment is 
intimated, absolute silence is maintained concerning the 
Messiah's part in that transaction. It is plain that the 
later conception of the Messiah, with all the hopes that 
gathered round His person and achievements, was not 
generally admitted when most of our books were com- 
posed, and it was only very gradually that the ideas 
obtained which we have been accustomed to associate 
therewith. Though it is difficult to fix the date of most 
of these works, probably the earliest which contains 
definite Messianic statements is a section of the Third 
Book of the Sibylline Verses, written about a century 
and a half before the Christian era. The passage which 
is, probably correctly, assumed to bear this interpretation 
is the following : l " Then from the sun God shall send a 
King, who shall cause all the earth to cease from wicked 
1 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 652 ff. 


war, killing indeed some, and making faithful treaties 
with others. Not by His own counsels shall He do all 
these things, but in obedience to the good decrees of the 
great God." Then follows a description of the happy 
condition that is to ensue ; but there is no further 
mention of this King, and the governing authority of 
the new kingdom established by God is not one great 
personage, but prophets, who are "judges of mortals and 
righteous kings." The subordinate position assigned to 
Messiah is very remarkable ; He, indeed, prepares the 
way for the great consummation, but He is not said to 
bear any part in the administration of the future age. 
In another passage, 1 which critics generally assign to 
some half-century B.C., the advent of the Messiah is 
immediately expected. Thus the Sibyl writes : " But 
when Rome shall rule over Egypt also, uniting it into 
one, then indeed the mighty kingdom of the immortal 
King shall appear among men ; and there shall come a 
pure King to hold the sceptres of all the earth for all' 
ages as time hastens onward." Evidently, it is an 
earthly kingdom which this Monarch establishes, and 
this, it is further intimated, is to come to an end when 
the new era dawns. 

The Book of Enoch adumbrates the Messiah in sym- 
bolical language. In the vision of the seventy shepherds, 
and the sheep and wild animals, the Messiah appears 
under the figure of a white Bull. The wording of 
the passage is ambiguous, and the correct reading is 
disputed ; hence it remains doubtful to which age the 
Messiah belongs ; though the analogy of other passages 
1 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 36-92. 


would place Him at the entrance of the new era. 
Enoch says : l " Then those three who were clothed in 
white raised me up and placed me in the midst of the 
sheep, before the judgment took place 2 . . . and I saw 
that a white Bullock was born, having great horns, and all 
the beasts of the field and all the birds of heaven feared 
him, and besought him continually. And I watched 
till all their tribes were changed and became white 
bullocks ; and the first among them [was the Word, and 
the same Word] 3 was a great beast, and had great black 
horns upon his head ; and the Lord of the sheep rejoiced 
over them and over all the bullocks." The personality 
of this " Bullock " is not very definite, and there is no 
allusion to descent from the house of David ; but the 
representation evidently embraces hopes of Messiah, and 
looks forward, though vaguely, to the time of His 
appearing. This time is fixed more accurately in the 
Fourth of Esdras (vii. 28 ff.), where it is announced that 
Messiah and the saints with Him shall rejoice four 
hundred 4 years, and that then he and all men are to die, 
and silence reign for seven days, at the end of which 
time " the earth that yet awaketh not shall be raised 
up, arid that which is corrupt shall die." So in other 
passages, both in Esdras and Baruch, the dominion of 
Messiah is announced as lasting till the final judgment, 
confined, as it would seem, to the first, the present age. 

1 Enoch xc. 31 ff. 

2 Prof. Drummond doubts the genuineness of this clause, and 
Dillmann does not hold it as indisputable. It is certainly incon- 
sistent with other statements in the same passage. 

3 Tlie words in brackets are regarded as spurious. 

4 The Syriac reads " thirty." Churton, in loc. 


The Messiah, according to Enoch, 1 is to be bom at 
Jerusalem ; meantime He is hidden till the hour of His 
revelation arrives. In the Ascension of Isaiah He passes 
through the seven heavens unrecognised, until He 
executes vengeance on the evil principalities and powers, 
and returns in glory to the throne of God. Esdras sees 
Him coming up from the midst of the sea, which denotes 
the mysterious and secret character of the unknown region 
wherein He sojourned, and in due time taking His stand 
upon Mount Zion. 2 " Here," says Baruch, 3 " He shall 
judge the last leader of His enemies, and put him to 
death, and shall protect God's people who are found in 
the place which He has chosen. And His dominion shall 
continue until the world of corruption is brought to an 
end, and the predicted times are fulfilled." Of the 
Messiah's descent from David and His high title, the 
Psalter of Solomon gives the clearest indications. 
" Behold, Lord," says the Psalmist, " and raise up for 
them their King, the Son of David, at the time which 
Thou knowest. . . . He is the righteous King over them, 
taught of God. There shall be no injustice in His days 
among them, for they all shall be holy, and their King 
shall be Christ the Lord." This last expression seems 
certainly to have been well known before Christian times. 

1 Enoch xc. 36 f. 

2 2 Esdr. xiii. 26, 35. 3 Apoc. Bar. xl. 

4 Ps. Solom. xvii. 23, 35, 36. The title is given in the MSS. 
without variation Xp;<n-o Kvpiog. Professor Drummond would read 
Kvpiov. But see xviii. 6, 8, and Lam. iv. 20. At the same time, as 
Ewald points out, the expression in the text may possibly be a mis- 
translation for " the Lord's Christ," as Luke ii. 26, and must not be 
taken as proving the seer's belief in the Divinity of Messiah. 



In Esdras 1 the name Christ is found twice at least, 
though in one place it has been changed by some Chris- 
tian hand into " Jesus ; " and '* unctus," the Anointed, 
also occurs, corrupted in the Latin into " ventus," the 
"wind;" but in the other versions appearing with 
an addition, "the Anointed whom the Highest hath 
reserved to the end of the days, who shall arise out of 
the seed of David." The title Messiah is constantly 
used in Baruch ; thus we read, " It shall come to pass, 
when that which is to be shall have been accomplished 
there, that Messiah shall begin to be revealed." 2 The 
Book of Enoch has suffered so much from glosses and 
interpolations that we cannot build much upon isolated 
expressions ; but, as the text stands, the expression " Son 
of God," or its equivalent, is met with in the most 
ancient section once. The Lord is represented as saying 
(cv. 2), "I and my Son will unite ourselves with them 
[the sons of earth] for ever and ever." Nor can much 
reliance be placed upon the present text of the Second of 
Esdras ; otherwise the terms Messiah and Son of God 
may be observed in a few passages. 3 But although we 
grant that the name and designation of the Messiah are 
found in these books, there is very far from being any 
general consent as to His nature and attributes. The 
Catholic doctrine concerning the Christ was as yet not 
received, and the speculations which were rife fell far 
short of the great truth. Whether many of these writers 
believed in the pre-existence of the Messiah before His 

1 2 Esdr. vii. 28, 29, xii. 32. 

2 Apoc. Bar. xxix. See also xxx., xxxix., xl., Ixx., Ixxii. 

3 See Drummond, pp. 285 if. 


appearance on earth is doubtful. The author of the 
Ascension of Isaiah certainly did ; but as the portion of 
the work containing the assertion is probably the com- 
position of a Christian Jew, it cannot be quoted as 
affording an instance of purely Jewish opinion. The 
expression in the Third Book of the Sibyllines already 
cited, which represents the future King as proceeding 
" from the sun," might seem to imply at least a super- 
natural origin, denoting that, as the Creed says, " He 
came down from heaven ; " but the words (air' r)e\ioto) 
may mean merely " from the rising sun," i.e. from the 
East, which to a dweller in Egypt would be the land of 
mystery and of God's revelations. In that part of the 
Book of Enoch which is termed the Similitudes or 
Parables, He who is here called " Son of man " is seen by 
the seer in company with the " Ancient of Days," and is 
expressly stated to have existed before all worlds, and to 
live before God for ever ; in Him all wisdom and right- 
eousness dwell ; but He is not God, though of godlike 
character. In another and more ancient division of the 
work, as we have seen above, He is figured under the 
representation of " a white Bull," born in due time, and 
in no way supernaturally distinguished from the other 
animals who assume the same appearance, though His 
supremacy is recognised by them in that they fear and 
pray to Him. In the Psalter of Solomon the Messiah is 
lauded in the highest terms, as mighty in word and deed, 
a just and powerful Euler, who, living in the fear of God, 
shall feed the Lord's people in faith and righteousness ; 
but He is not superhuman, He is only the ideal earthly 
king of David's line. The Apocalypse of Baruch speaks 


of the " revelation of Messiah and of His kingdom," l 
which seems to imply pre-existence ; but, as Professor 
Drummond points out, this expression, and the analogous 
one "reserved " in Second Esdras (xii. 32, xiii. 36), may 
merely imply the belief that Messiah after His birth 
should be withdrawn into concealment, from whence He 
should emerge in due time ; or such terms may be used 
to denote God's predestination, and the mystery which 
attached to this heavenly messenger. In fact, none of 
these works contain any clear assertion of the Divinity 
of the Messiah ; and the writers, while they look upon 
Him as abnormal and marvellous and supreme, do not 
attribute to Him a nature different from that of man in 
its highest ideal character. We may note that our Lord's 
own disciples were very slow to realise His Divine nature, 
while they readily owned His Messiahship. Again and 
again Jesus had to reprove their dulness of apprehension 
and slowness of belief. Miracles often repeated failed to 
convey this truth fully to their minds ; and it needed the 
Resurrection, with all its wondrous accompaniments, to 
enable them fully to realise that their Master was God 
Almighty. So difficult was it for them to rise superior 
to prejudice and popular opinion. 

Our general view of the pseudepigraphical books would 
not be complete without a brief notice of their angelology 
and eschatology. The existence of good and evil angels 
is fully recognised. The former are divided into various 
orders and degrees ; in Enoch the names of the arch- 
angels are given as Michael, Gabriel, Suriel, and Uriel; 
Suriel elsewhere appears as Raphael. These four have 
1 Chap. xxix. 3, xxxix. 7 ; Drummond, p. 293. 


their special spheres and provinces; and beside them there 
are myriads of inferior angels who stand before the Lord 
of Spirits, ready to do His will. They are archangels 
who reveal God's will to Enoch, and conduct him on his 
various journeys. It is the Angel of the Presence who 
is charged to transcribe the revelation in the Book of 
Jubilees. Angels, according to Baruch, execute God's 
wrath in the destruction of Jerusalem, having first 
committed to the earth the veil, the mercy-seat, and 
other sacred things appertaining to the temple. It is, as 
we have seen, from the Assumption of Moses that the 
story of the dispute between Michael and Satan over the 
body of Moses is derived. Esdras receives his seven 
visions by the intervention of Uriel. The Book of 
Jubilees states that on the first day of creation God made 
the ministering spirits, the Angel of the Presence, the 
Angel of Praise, and the angels that preside over the 
elements, as we find in the Revelation of St. John mention 
made of angels which have power over fire and water. 1 
The angels bring men's sins before God, execute His 
vengeance on sinners, teach mortals useful arts and 
acceptable worship, and communicate God's will by 
dreams or visions or open manifestations. In the 
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs the heavenly hier- 
archy is still more systematically arranged, and the 
duties and offices of its various members are distin- 

The evil angels have their ranks and orders ; they are 
a disciplined army under chieftains. At their head 
appears one who is variously named Satan, Sammael, 
1 Kev. xiv. 18, xvi. 5. 


Mastema, Azazel. Their fall, according to Enoch, was 
brought about by their connection with the daughters of 
men, from whence sprang a race of giants whose iniquity, 
fostered by their superhuman fathers, occasioned the 
Flood. These evil angels taught men war and bloodshed 
and every wicked work, and were punished by being 
confined in the depth of the earth till the great day of 
judgment, a certain portion of them only being allowed 
a limited liberty. 

Turning to the eschatological teaching of these books, 
we find that in the last days, on the appearance of 
Messiah, there will be a great mustering of enemies to 
oppose the establishment of the new kingdom. Here we 
have the curious myth of the return to life of Nero, 
who, under the name of Beliar, is to lead the armies of 
Antichrist. 1 At other times this leader is not definitely 
named. In Baruch (chap, xl.) he is called merely " dux 
ultimus," who, as we have seen above, is to be brought 
to Mount Zion and there put to death by the victorious 
Messiah. But it is not always the Messiah who con- 
ducts the war; God Himself interposes in the Sibyl's 
account, 2 and Enoch predicts the great destruction of 
Israel's enemies before the advent of Messiah, and exults 
in their cruel annihilation. 3 Whether by the action of 
Messiah, or by the immediate intervention of the Lord, 
it is universally agreed that the assembled foes of Israel 
shall meet with signal overthrow, and that, at this " con- 
summation," the kingdom of Messiah shall be established. 
This kingdom is to have its centre at Jerusalem, under 

1 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 63 ff., iv. 137 ff. 

2 Ibid. iii. 669 ff. 8 Enoch xc., xcviii., xcix. 


the personal rule of Messiah, who is the vicegerent of 
God, 1 and is to extend over all Cations, and to be char- 
acterised by righteousness, peace, and plenty. The 
material blessings of this reign are picturesquely deline- 
ated in the Sibylline Verses and elsewhere ; 2 the earth 
shall be marvellously productive, men's lives shall be 
prolonged to a thousand years without disease or in- 
firmity. The duration of this kingdom is considered in 
most of our books to be unlimited ; Esdras alone confines 
its length to four hundred years, and Baruch says vaguely 
that it shall be continued until the world of corruption 
be ended. Whether the Gentiles should be converted 
was a question not answered in a uniform mariner ; 
while the writers with Hellenistic leanings took a merci- 
ful view, the exaggerated prejudices of others led them 
to anticipate with satisfaction the total annihilation of 
the heathen. The Sibyl looks forward to a time when 
the sight of the happiness and prosperity of the God- 
fearing Israelites will move alien nations to repentance, s 
whilst the Psalmist brings the heathen under the yoke 
of the chosen race, and holds out to them no hope of 
salvation. 4 Of the resurrection and the final judgment 
we have varying accounts, there being also a dissidence 
in the opinion as to the epochs in which these events 
should take place ; some writers allotting the judgment 
to the time of Messiah's appearing, others looking for it 

1 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 652 ff. ; Psalm. Sol. xvii. ; Drummond, pp. 
809 ff. 

2 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 743 ff., 776 ff. ; Enoch x. 17 ff., xi. 1. ; Apoc. 
Bar. xxix. ; Jubil. xxiii. 

3 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 702 ff. ; comp. Enoch x. 21, xc. 30 ff. 

4 Psalm. Sol. xvii. 25 ff. ; comp. Apoc. Bar. Ixxii. 


at the close of that period, and as ushering in eternity. 
The latter view is that which most generally prevailed. 
The Book of Enoch gives copious details concerning the 
future life and the judgment. The Lord sits on a 
throne erected in the midst of Palestine, and passes 
judgment respectively on the fallen angels, the apostate 
Israelites, and the heathen powers. The souls of the 
dead have a place where they wait for their sentence, 
and are here divided into classes according to their 
earthly actions, accounts of which have been daily 
written down in the heavenly books; and now they 
shall receive their reward unalterable punishment in 
the case of obstinate sinners, and eternal felicity in the 
case of the righteous. The resurrection of the body is 
nowhere expressly affirmed, though it is implied by the 
material nature of the penalties and the bliss accorded 
to the raised persons. There seems to have been no 
definite belief in a bodily resurrection, though a resur- 
rection of some kind was universally expected, and blind 
gropings after the great Christian doctrine are occasionally 
found ; but the general impression conveyed by these 
apocryphal books is that the immortality enunciated 
therein is incorporeal ; and, as regards the righteous, the 
idea is that they shall be changed into angelic beings 
with the power of assuming any form they please. 1 

The above are the chief points of interest in the 
Jewish Pseudepigraphic writings ; more definite details 
and notices of incidental matters appertain more pro- 
perly to the separate accounts of the various works 
which are classed under this designation. 
1 Apoc. Bar. li. 



AMONG the apocryphal literature of the Old Testament 
which has been preserved to our time, the eighteen 
Psalms of Solomon, so called, are an interesting monu- 
ment of later Judaism, giving glimpses of contemporary 
history and breathing Messianic hopes. Excluded from 
our English version of the Bible, they have been remark- 
ably neglected in this country, and very few students 
have taken the trouble of mastering this important 
remnant of antiquity. Germany has dealt otherwise 
with them. For the last thirty years critics in that 
country have been investigating their origin, assigning 
their date, settling the text, examining the contents ; so 
that we can enter upon the study of them with a critical 
and exegetical apparatus which a few years ago was 
unattainable. They were never included in the Canon- 
ical Scriptures of the Jews, though known to early 
authors, and occurring in several catalogues of Scripture. 
The Alexandrine Manuscript of the Greek Bible, indeed, 
inserted them at the end of the volume, a fact which 


probably proves that they were used in Divine worship 
in the Eastern Church ; but where they are named, they 
are included among the Antilegomena, and are apparently 
debarred from the Canon by the Council of Laodicea. 1 
In the Stichometria of Nicephorus, and in the Synopsis 
Athanasii, they are classed with the J3ooks of "Wisdom, 
Ecclesiasticus, Maccabees, and other Apocrypha ; in other 
lists they come in the same category as Enoch, the 
Twelve Patriarchs, the Apocalypses of Moses, etc. Being 
thus thrust aside in early times, they seem to have met 
with little attention, and to have been seldom transcribed. 
Hence the manuscripts which exhibited them were very 
few, and modern investigation has not discovered many 
fresh sources of information about them. Most unfor- 
tunately the leaves of the Alexandrine Codex, now in 
the British Museum, which once contained them, have 
perished, so that we are forced to rely on a late and 
inferior document for the exposition and correction of 
the text. The Editio Princeps of De la Cerda was 
printed from a MS. brought from Constantinople in 
the year 1615, which was once in the Augsburg Library, 
but has now disappeared. Three other MSS. known to 
exist have not been used in editing the work. Indeed, 
the only manuscript made available is a cursive of the 

1 Syn. of Laodicea, Can. 59 : ort ov B 

tv TV IxxAw'ix. Zonaras and Balsamon explain the term l 
. thus : ix,ro$ ruv pv' i^<x,\u.uv rov Asc/3<S tvpicrxovToii x,xt 

i roi> "Sohoftauro; sivoti x.eti oiT-Jhtov TIVUV, ov; x,otl Hitunxov; 
oi KetTtps; x.oe.1 py 'hkywQot.i SH TYI tKX^Yia'nx, ^(SToi^otVTQ. They 
are mentioned among the Apocrypha or Antilegomena in the Cata- 
logue of "The Sixty Books" (ap. Westcott, Can. of N. T., Append. 
D. xvii.). 


tenth century, Codex Vindobonensis, 1 called " V " in 
Fritzsche's edition, and now in the Eoyal Library of 
Vienna. In this our Psalms are found between the 
Book of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus. The title prefixed 
to the once existing Augsburg MS. was WAATHPION 
SAAOMftNTOS, and at the end occurred the colophon 
"*Fa\fjLol Sa\ojjt,)VTO$ tij. %ovcrtv eTrrj a' TeXo? avv 
@eo). But the author himself never claims to be the 
son of David, and the various headings, now found in 
the Psalter, which attribute the Psalms to Solomon, are 
without dispute the work of later hands. The writer 
speaks of himself sometimes, e.g. Ps. i. 3 : "I reasoned 
in my heart that I was filled with righteousness, because 
I was prosperous and had become mighty in children ; " 
Ps. ii. 35: " Eaising me up unto glory." But even 
if these and such-like passages assumed more plainly 
than they do Solomonic authorship, they would show 
merely that the poet, like the writer of the Book of 
Wisdom, appropriated the name of Solomon for literary 
purposes, with no idea of deceiving his readers or causing 
them to give credence to so transparent a fallacy. Or, 
very possibly, the name of Solomon did not occur in the 
original title ; but, as the Psalter became well known 
and used, because it could not be ascribed to David, or 
included in the canonical Psalm- Book, it was honoured 
with the name of Solomon in later times, and reached 
the early Christian writers under that designation. The 
fact that in 1 Kings iv. 32 Solomon is said to have 

1 Codex Gr. Theol. 7. It is described by Hilgenfeld (Zeitschr. 
1868, p. 136), who considers it superior in correctness to the Augs 
burg MS. 


composed " a thousand and five songs " (aSal 
X&MU, Sept.), gave a colouring to the assumed author- 
ship, and in uncritical times, when historical allusions 
were little investigated or weighed, the name gained an 
unquestioned currency. 

The references to the Book in early writers are few 
and uncertain. In the Stichoraetria of Nicephorus it is 
named, as we have said, among the Antilegomena of the 
Old Testament : to the same category it is relegated in 
the Synopsis Sacrce Scriptures appended to the works of 
St. Athanasius, the date of which is doubtful, and which 
may possibly be founded upon the Catalogue of Nice- 
phorus. 1 Schiirer thinks it was included under the 
category of Antilegomena simply owing to its absence 
from the Hebrew Canon, position in that list being the 
criterion which guided the formal reception of writings ; 
while in the Christian Church it was regarded in some 
quarters with greater favour. Five Odes of Solomon 
are quoted in the curious Gnostic book of the third 
century A.D., Pistis Sophia ; 2 and St. Jerome writing 
against Vigilantius (cap. vi.) may possibly refer to the 
Psalter when he says : " Nam in commentariolo tuo quasi 
pro te faciens de Salomone sumis testimonium, quod 
Salomon omnino non scripsit, ut, qui habes alterum 
Esdram, habeas et Salomonem alterum." The " Second 
Esdras " means a passage in the Fourth Book of Esdras 

1 In both of these lists we find the title \}/ec\u,ot xal uly S&AO^J/TO? ; 
the latter adding ari'wt ftp = 2100. The Synopsis is in vol. ii. p. 154 
of the Bened. edition of Athanasius. The Catalogue of Nicephorus 
is given in App. xix. of Canon Westcott's work on The Canon of the 
New Testament. 

2 Ed. Schwartze et Peterman, Berlin 1851. 


(vi. 81, ap. Fritz.) 1 implying the inexpediency of certain 
prayers for the dead ; the " Second Solomon " may per- 
haps indicate the following words : " Therefore this is their 
inheritance, Hades, and darkness, and destruction ; and 
they shall not be found in the day of the mercy of the 
righteous " (Ps. xiv. G) ; " for their iniquities shall make 
the houses of sinners desolate, and sinners shall perish in 
the day of the Lord's judgment for ever and ever " (xv. 
13). Lactantius 2 more than once quotes passages from 
Solomon which do not occur in the Canonical Scriptures, 
and are supposed to have been once comprehended 
among these Psalms, though no longer extant in our 

1 vii. 105, p. 98, in Canon Churton's very useful work, lately 
published, The Uncanonical and Apocryphal Scriptures, London 1884. 
It is called the Second Book of Esdras in the Anglican Version. 
The Latin runs : " Tune noil poterit quis lit deprecetur pro aliquo 
in illo die." Another allusion to the same passage is made by 
Jerome, Adv. Vigilant, c. 10: "Tu vigilans dormis et dormiens 
scribis et propinas mihi librum apocryphum, qui sub nomine Esdrje 
a te et similibns tui legitur, ubi scriptnm est, quod post mortem 
nullus pro aliis gaudeat deprecari ; quern ego librum nunquam 

a Dimn. Instit. lib. iv. 18: "Solomon, films ejus qui Hierosoly- 
inam condidit, earn ipsam perituram esse in ultionem sanctoe crucis 
prophetavit: 'Quod si avertimini a me, dicit Dominus, et noil 
custodieritis veritatem meam, rejiciain Israel a terra quam dedi 
illis ; et domum hanc, quam sedificavi illis in nomine meo, projiciam 
illam ex omnibus ; et erit Israel in perditionem et in improperium 
populo ; et domus haec erit deserta ; et omnis qui transibit per illam 
admirabitur et dicet : Propter quam rem fecit Dominus terrae huic et 
huic domui hsec mala ? Et dicent : Quia reliquerunt Dominum 
Deum suum, et persecuti sunt regem suum dilectissimum Deo, et 
cruciaverunt ilium in humilitate magna, propter hoc importavit illis 
Deus mala hsec.' " On the last part of this passage the commentator 
(ap. Migne, vi. p. 509) remarks : " Hsec nescio ex qua traditione 
adjecit, quorum nulla 1 Reg. ix. aut 2, Paralip. vii. vestigia apparent." 


The Fourth Book of Esdras, which appears to have 
been written towards the end of the first Christian 
century, contains many passages which are possibly 
derived from the Psalter. Some of these have been 
collected by Hilgenfeld in his edition of our Book, and 
are sufficiently apposite. Ps. viii. 34 : " Gather together 
the dispersion of Israel with mercy and kindness." Hid. 
xi. 3 : " Stand on high, Jerusalem, and see thy children 
gathered once from the east and west by the Lord. 
They come from the north in the joy of their God ; from 
the isles afar off God gathered them together." 4 Esdr. 
i. 38 : "See thy people coming from the east." Hid. 
xiii. 39: "Thou hast seen Him gathering to Himself 
another multitude in pkace." Ps. ix. 18: "Thou, 
Lord, hast put Thy name upon us." 4 Esdr. iv. *25: 
" What wilt Thou do to Thy name which is invoked upon 
us ? " Ibid. x. 22:" Thy name which is invoked upon 
us hath been profaned." Ps. xvii. 19:" They wandered 
in deserts to save their souls from evil." 4 Esdr. 
xiii. 41 f . : "They determined to leave the multitude of 
nations, and to go to a distant region, there to observe 
their own laws." Ps. xvii. 36: "Their king shall be 
Christ the Lord." 4 Esdr. vii. 28: "My son Jesus 
shall be revealed with those who are with him." Ps. 
xvii. 37: " He shall not trust in horse and rider and 
bow, nor shall he multiply to himself gold and silver for 
war, nor put his hopes in arms (oV-Xot?, Fr.) for the day 
of battle." 4 Esdr. xiii. 9 : " Lo, when he saw the 
onset of the host coming against him, he raised not his 
hand, nor held the shield, nor any weapon of war." Ps. 
xviii. 4 : " Thy chastisement shall be upon us as a first- 


born only-begotten son." 4 Esdr. vi. 58: "We Thy 
people, whom Thou hast called Thy first - born only- 
begotten son." 

There is one passage of the Psalter (xvii. 5) which is 
found in the Testaments of the Tivdve Patriarchs, that 
curious production of early Jewish Christianity. It 
occurs in the Testament of Judah, 22 : " For the Lord 
sware with an oath unto me that my crown shall not 
fail from my seed, all the days, for ever." In the 
Psalter : " Thou swarest to him concerning his seed for 
ever, that his crown should not fail before thee." 1 In 
the New Testament no certain intimation occurs that 
the work was known to the inspired writers. The only 
passage which bears a close likeness to a verse in the 
gospel is in Ps. v. 4 : " One cannot take spoils from a 
strong man," which is parallel to Mark xii. 29:" How 
can one enter into a strong man's house and spoil his 
goods ? " 

On the other hand, founded as it is on the model of 
the Old Testament, the Psalter is replete with references 
to and citations from the Canonical Scriptures. To 
rehearse these would be to transcribe a large portion of 
the whole work. But it is noteworthy that what we call 
Apocryphal Books are not unknown to our author. And 
this is the more remarkable in the case of a work written, 
as is justly supposed, in Palestine and in the Hebrew 
language ; since it shows how widely extended was the 

1 Ps. xvii. 5 : x.oe.1 av af^oactg uvrcf irspl rw aTrepftotTOt OIVTOV tig rov 
etiayot, TOV fty iKhiiit'tiv d^kystvri aov fiavfatioy KVTOV. Test. XII. Pair. 
v. 22 : opxu yotp apoat ftoi xvpto$ fty extetyefv TO fiaathetov t uov Ix, rov 
ftov irottru; rotg ijj&ipots sa$ 


influence of that literature which grew up after the close 
of the Canon of the Old Testament. There are re- 
miniscences of, if not quotations from, the Book of 
Wisdom in the Psalter. Thus in Ps. xvi. 8 the epithet 
" unprofitable " (ai>&xeXoi)?) applied to sin seems to recall 
the word in Wisd. i. 11: " Beware of unprofitable 
murmuring." In Ps. viii. 11 and in Wisd. i. 16 the 
making a compact (o-vveOevro crvvOqfcas) with sin and 
death is common to both. " The right hand of the Lord 
sheltered (eV/ceVac-e) me . . . the arm of the Lord saved 
us," says the Psalter (xiii. 1). "With His right hand 
shall He shelter (o-fceTrdcrei) them, and with His arm 
shall He protect them," says Wisd. v. 1 6. " God is a 
righteous judge, and will not reverence persons (Oav/jiaaet, 
TTpocrwTrov)" Ps. ii. 19. " The Lord of all will not cower 
before persons (vTroo-reXeiTai, irpoatoTrov)" Wisd. vi. 8. 
The use of the very uncommon word evardOeia in Ps. 
iv. 11, vi. 7, is probably due to a reminiscence of 
Wisd. vi. 26. Wisd. v. 23 : "Iniquity shall lay waste 
(epijfjLtocrei . . . avofju'a) the whole earth," may be com- 
pared with Ps. xvii. 13:" The sinner wasted (rjpijficocrev 
6 avofjios 1 ) their land." The phrase, "Man and his 
portion are with thee by weight (ev errata))," is verbally 
like, though differing in intention from, the famous 
passage in Wisd. xi. 21: "Thou orderest all things by 
measure, number, and weight." The touching appeal in 
Wisd. xv. 2 : " For even if we sin, we are Thine," finds 
its echo in Ps. ix. 16: " Behold, and pity us, God of 
Israel, for we are Thine ; " and the idea, as well as the 

1 The MSS. give otvepog; but oivopos is an almost certain emenda- 
tion of Ewald. 


wording, of Ps. xiii. 8 : " He will admonish (vovQerijaei) 
the righteous man as the son of His love," is closely 
parallel with those of Wisd. xi. 10: " These as a father 
admonishing (vovOerwv) Thou didst prove." Between Ps. 
xi. and the fifth chapter of Baruch there are many close 
parallelisms ; but the latter is probably the borrower. 

Whilst we can trace the language and conceptions of 
the Psalter in a great measure to preceding Scriptures, 
we can yet claim for the author an originality for the 
manner in which he has developed and built upon the 
hints therein given, and from the outline of the prophets 
has presented a fairly complete picture of the ideal sou 
of David. A few words must first be said concerning 
the text and the date of the original work ; and then 
some extracts will show the pseudo-Solomon's views on 
various matters of the highest interest to all who desire 
to acquaint themselves with the progress of Jewish 

The revived interest in this little Book arose from the 
importance attributed to it by Ewald in his history of 
the Jewish Church ; and although, as we shall show, we 
think that his view of the date of its production is 
erroneous, the learned world is largely indebted to him 
for raising a discussion which has contributed greatly to 
our knowledge of the contents and bearing of the work. 
Among other points which have been established may be 
mentioned that of the unity of the Psalter. Of course 
German ingenuity has endeavoured to trace the hands of 
various authors in the work ; but the identity of ideas, 
the similarity of language and phrases, the homogeneous- 
ness of the composition, show that the writer is one, 



though he may have uttered his songs at different periods 
and under varying circumstances. He is thoroughly 
imbued with the Hebraic spirit, and has framed his 
Psalms on the Biblical model, proving how this form of 
poetry endured to the latest times of the Jewish polity. 
Stichometrically written, the Psalter affords a fair speci- 
men of Hebrew lyrics in their declining days ; and, if we 
may judge by the occasional introduction of the musical 
term "Diapsalma" (xvii. 31, xviii. 10), the words were 
intended to be used in Divine service. The Psalter, as 
we have mentioned, was first published by La Cerda in 
his Adversaria Sacra (Lugd. 1626), from an Augsburg 
MS., which has since been lost. 1 The same text, with 
the addition of a few notes of no great value, was repeated 
by Fabricius in his Codex PseudepigrapJms V. Test. (Hamb. 
1713). A careful revision of the text, aided by an 
additional MS., was made by Hilgenfeld, and printed in 
Zeitschrift fur wisscnschaft. Theol. 1868, and in Messias 
Judceorum libris eornm illustratus (Lips. 1869). Another 
edition, with a commentary by Geiger (Der Psalter 
Salomos), appeared in 1871 ; and the same year saw 
Fritzsche's Libri Apocryplii Vet. Test., which contains a 
revised text with various readings. The only English 
editions which I have met with are a translation of the 
Psalms in the first volume of W. Whiston's Authentic^ 
Records (London 1727), and one by Pick in the Presby- 
terian Review, October 1883. 

That the Greek text, which alone is extant, is not the 

1 This manuscript came originally from Constantinople. How it 
was lost cannot now be ascertained. It is not even mentioned in 
the existing Catalogue of the Augsburg MSS., Hilgenf. p. 135. 


original work, but a translation from the Hebrew or 
Aramaic, seems to be tolerably certain. The diction is 
thoroughly Hebraic, and the idioms of that language are 
too closely represented for it to have been the work of 
one writing Greek hymns of his own composition. And 
wherever the translator may have lived, the author seems 
to have been' a native of Palestine. 

But if the language and locality of the original work 
may be regarded as ascertained, the date of the writer is 
a difficult question, and one that has been the subject of 
much controversy. Winston boldly cuts the knot by 
asserting that the author is a certain Solomon who is 
mentioned in the Fourth Book of Esdras l as rebuilding 
Jerusalem and restoring the true worship, after the 
Persian captivity, about the thirtieth year of Artaxerxes 
Mnemon, i.e. B.C. 375. This assertion has no support 
external or internal, and has been maintained by no 
scholar of eminence. The controversy really lies between 
those who refer the work to the time of Antiochus 
Epiphanes and those who assign it to the days of Herod 
or of Pompey. The determination depends entirely upon 
internal evidence ; and we all know how uncertain this 
is, and how prone are critics to read their own views into 
the words upon which they build their argument. This 
is very evident in the present case. Ewald and others, 
who adopt the Maccabsean period as the date, found their 
theory especially on the language of Ps. i. ii. and xvii. 
In these passages the poet utters his lamentation over 
the oppression of his people, complains urgently of the 
heathen who lord it over Israel, and expresses a hope 
1 4 Esdr. x. 46. 


that God would raise up from another race one to be 
their saviour. 1 Prom these same passages other critics 
argue for the era of Pompey ; and indeed the expressions 
suit either period. Some other criteria therefore must 
be found in order to settle the much disputed date. 

Without entering at length into the historical question, 
we will just note the aspect of affairs represented in the 
Psalter, and then compare it with the events in Jewish 
history to which it seems most closely to correspond. 2 
The work opens with the bitter cry of the Hebrews 
oppressed by the sudden attack of an enemy (i. 1, 2) ; a 
generation to which no promise of David's throne had 
been made had seized the royal crown (xvii.), and 
triumphed in the subjection of the nation. But Israel 
had been guilty of grievous sin ; king, judge, and people 
alike were involved in the offence ; and they were justly 
punished by intestine war and other calamities. These 
troubles were repressed by inviting foreign aid ; a man 
of another stock rose up against them (xvii.) ; and the 
infatuated people met the foreigner with joy (viii.), opened 
the gates and bade him enter in peace. And this stranger 
from the ends of the earth entered in friendly guise, as a 
father visits the house of his sons ; but after he had 
secured himself, he broke down the walls with the 

1 Ps. xvii. 9 : xi/6pa7rov dhhorpioy yivov; v) t u.ay (qpiruv, A). For the 
unmeaning qptruv Ewald would read qpauv, and explain " the race of 
heroes " to be that of Alexander. 

2 I here gladly acknowledge my obligations to M'Clintock and 
Strong's Cyclopaedia, art. " Psalter of Solomon," to Hilgenfeld's edition 
of the Psalter in his Zeitschrift, 1868, pp. 133 if., and to that of Geiger 
(Augsb. 1871) ; also to Langen's Das Judenthum inPaltist. (Freiburg, 
1866), and to Wittichen's Die Idee des Reiches Gottes (Gottingen 1872), 
pp. 155 if. 


battering-ram (ii. 1), seized on the towers, poured out 
the blood of the inhabitants like water. Jerusalem was 
trodden down by the Gentiles, the altar profaned, of the 
prominent men some were put to death, many were made 
captives and sent as slaves into the far west. But retri- 
bution followed. The Dragon who took Jerusalem was 
himself slain in Egypt, his body cast forth on the shore, 
dishonoured and unburied. 

Now, though isolated expressions in the Psalter suit 
events that happened at various dates of Jewish history, 
yet, taking the references as a whole, and especially 
regarding the mention of the chief oppressor's fate, we 
cannot forego the conclusion that the poet has before his 
eyes the actions and death of Pompey. On the decease 
of Hyrcanus I., B.C. 106, his son Aristobulus seized the 
supreme power and assumed the title of king. He was 
succeeded by Alexander Jannreus, his brother, who, 
attaching himself strongly to the Sadducaic faction, would 
be considered by the Pharisees (to which sect the pseudo- 
Solomon evidently belongs) as an enemy and a sinner. 
Besides this, being an Asmonrcan, and not of the family 
of David, he had usurped a throne to which he had no 
just claim. A civil war ensued, and great atrocities were 
committed. Jannams died B.C. 79; and then arose a 
contest for the sovereignty between his two sons, Hyr- 
canus II. and Aristobulus the former a partisan of the 
Pharisees, the latter of the Sadducees. These intestine 
calamities might justly have been regarded as a punish- 
ment for the laxity which had been allowed and fostered 
of late. Gentile customs were introduced, mixed marriages 
permitted, and a general corruption of morals followed as 


a necessary consequence. In the midst of these domestic 
troubles, and when Hyrcanus, having defeated Aristobulus 
with the aid of Aretas, king of Arabia, was besieging 
him in the temple at Jerusalem, news arrived that the 
victorious Eonian general, Pompey, was advancing on the 
city. Both brothers sent ambassadors to secure his aid ; 
but Pompey deferred his decision, and Aristobulus, pre- 
suming that it would be unfavourable to his interest, 
shut himself up in the temple fortress and prepared for 
a siege. Hyrcanus, on the other hand, received the 
Roman with every demonstration of joy throwing open 
to him the gates of the city, and putting it entirely at 
his disposal. Pompey sent for his military engines from 
Tyre, and besieged the temple. At the end of three 
months his battering-rams destroyed one of the largest 
towers, and he made his way into the fortress. A cruel 
massacre ensued ; the priests were cut down even while 
ministering at the altar, and Pompey himself entered the 
sacred courts, and penetrated into the Holy of Holies. 
On his return to Eome, after demolishing the walls of 
Jerusalem, he took with him a large number of Jewish 
prisoners to grace his triumph (eis efMTrcuypov, " for 
mockery "), among whom were Aristobulus and his two 
sons and daughters. Thus was the independence of 
Judaa overthrown. That the reference is not to Titus 
and his conquest of Jerusalem is evident from many 
circumstances, more especially from the fact that the 
destruction of the city and temple is nowhere mentioned. 
The man from a strange land, who carried away captives 
to the far west, is the same whose end is so exultingly 
told in the Psalter. This allusion cannot be doubted. 


The manner of Pompey's death is well known. After 
his defeat at Pharsalia, he sought refuge in Egypt, but 
was treacherously murdered as he was landing on the 
shore ; his head was cut off, and his body was left naked 
and dishonoured : " when," as pseudo-Solomon says (iL 
29 ff.), " the pride of the Dragon was disgraced, and he 
was stabbed in the mountains of Egypt, utterly despised 
by land and sea, and his body was left to rot on the 
shore, and there was no man to bury him." 

It will be seen at once how close is the correspondence 
between the Psalter and this chapter of Jewish history. 
If we had space for further detail, that correspondence 
would appear still more striking ; but enough has been 
said to show that some portion of the work, especially 
Ps. ii., was written after Pompey's death, and probably 
very soon after, while the event was still uppermost in 
men's minds. We may therefore fix the date of its 
composition at B.C. 48 at latest. Some of the Psalms are 
doubtless of earlier origin, dating probably from B.C. 63 ; 
and none exhibit any certain trace of Christian interpola- 

Taking then as proved the ante-Christian origin of 
the Psalter, we are prepared to find therein valuable inti- 
mations of the belief of the Hebrews in the age just 
preceding the time of our Lord. And we are not 
disappointed in our anticipations. It must be observed 
that the writer is a strict Pharisee, and that his notion 
of perfect religion is Pharasaic Judaism. Pdghteousness 
with him implies scrupulous performance of all legal and 
ceremonial enactments, and when he inveighs against 
transgressors, his ground for censure is that they have 


not observed the ordained prescriptions. The current 
opinions About the Messiah, the Eesurrection, the Future 
Life, are plainly set forth. The way in which these 
subjects are introduced is briefly this : The notion of 
the writer throughout is that God is a righteous judge, 
both of His own people and of the heathen. He punishes 
the former as a tender father chastises the son of his 
love ; the heathen meet with the stern correction which 
their wilful sins deserve. These two aspects of corrective 
and vindictive discipline are shown by an appeal to 
history. The fate of the Maccaboean dynasty, the 
usurpation of the Asmonreans, the invasion and supremacy 
of the Romans, are regarded as the punishment of 
national sins ; the fate of Pompey is a specimen of the 
destruction which awaits paganism. This leads the 
writer to look forward to a day when Israel's supremacy 
shall be assured by the appearance of Messiah, and to 
express his belief in the resurrection and reward of the 
righteous and the future punishment of sinners. This 
premised, let the Psalmist here speak for himself. The 
following are some of his utterances concerning the 
Messiah and His kingdom : 

Behold, Lord, and raise up for them their King, 

The Son of David, at the time which Thou, our God, knowest, 

That Thy Servant (vatici) should reign over Israel ; 

And gird Him with power to beat down unrighteous rulers . . . 

And He shall gather together the holy people which He shall guide 

in righteousness, 
And shall judge the tribes of the people hallowed by the Lord His 

And He shall not suffer unrighteousness to dwell in the midst of 

And no wicked man at all shall abide with them ; 


For He will know them that they are all the children of God, 

And He will distribute them in their tribes upon the land. 

And the stranger and the foreigner shall no more sojourn among 
them ; 

He shall judge the peoples and nations in the wisdom of His right- 

He shall have the peoples of the Gentiles to serve Him under His yoke, 

And he shall glorify the Lord by the submission of all the earth. 

And lie shall cleanse Jerusalem with sanctification as from the 

That Gentiles may come from the ends of the earth to see his glory, 

Bringing as offerings her way-worn children, 1 

Yen, to see the glory of the Lord wherewith God hath glorified her. 

And He is the righteous King over them, taught of God. 

There is no injustice in His days in their midst, 

For they shall all be holy, and their King shall be Christ the Lord. 2 

He shall not trust in horse or rider or bow, 

Nor multiply to Himself gold and silver for war, 

Nor gather hope from arms in the day of battle ; 

The Lord Himself is His King, the hope of the Mighty One is in the 
hope of God, 

And He will set 3 all the nations before Him in fear ; 

For He will smite the earth with the word of His mouth for ever, 

And bless the people of the Lord in wisdom with gladness. 

He Himself is pure from sin that He may govern a great people, 

Rebuke princes, and remove sinners by the power of His word. 

And, trusting upon His God, He shall not be weak in His days 

Because God hath made Him mighty by His Holy Spirit, * 

And wise in the counsel of prudence, with power and righteousness. 

And the blessing of the Lord shall be with Him in power, 

And His hope in the Lord shall not be weak ; 

1 Referring probably to such passages as Isa. xlix. 22, Ixvi. 20 ; 
Zeph. iii. 10. 

2 XpurTo; x.vpio$, as Lam. iv. 20. In Isa. xlv. 1, some of the Fathers 
rend ra xpia7u pov xvptu instead of Kvpu. See Barnab. Ep. xii. 11 ; 
Tertull. Adv. Jnd. vii. ; Cypr. Testim. i. 21 ; cf. St. Luke ii. 11. 

3 The MS. has lAgsjo-*/, which seems plainly wrong. Fr. and 
Hilg. read arriasi. Whiston : " will grind." I would suggest AOIJ</, 
"will thresh." Geiger retains tteqaet, and translates: "has mercy 
on all people who fear before Him." But this is inappropriate. 

4 'Ev TTi/svpciTt of/la. Cf. Isa. Ixiii. 10, 11. 


And who shall prevail against Him 1 

Mighty is He in His works, and strong in the fear of God. 

Tending the nock of the Lord in faith and righteousness, 

He will let none among them in their pasture to be weak. 

He shall lead them all in holiness, 

And there shall be among them no arrogance to oppress them. (xviL 
23 ff.) 

May God purify Israel against the day of mercy by His bless- 

Against the day of their election in the presence l of His Christ. 

Blessed are they who live in those days, 

To see the good things of the Lord which He will do in the genera- 
tion to come, 

Under the rod of the correction of Christ the Lord in the fear of His 

In the wisdom of the spirit and of righteousness and power. 

A good generation shall there be in the fear of God in the days 
of mercy, (xviii. 6-10.) 

From these passages we may gather the writer's senti- 
ments. He is deeply afflicted by the calamities of his 
people, The oppression of the heathen, the ruin of his 
city, the pollution of the temple, the reign of paganism, 
the supremacy of unrighteousness, have broken his 
patriotic heart ; and while he owns that his countrymen 
are justly punished for past iniquities, iniquities shared 
by prince and priest and people, he all the more looks 
forward to the coming Messiah, who shall bring salvation 
unto Israel. From their lost independence, from their 
present weakness and insignificance, he turns his longing 
gaze to better times ; he hopes for supernatural help ; he 
glows with anticipations of the glories of Messianic 

1 'Ei/ oiva&t Xjo/ffToii otvrov. The word oLva&g seems to be wholly 
unknown. Ecclesiastical Greek recognises avvot&s communion. 
Geiger translates : " in the kingdom of His anointed." It may mean 
"exaltation." In a fragment of /Eschylus &#* occurs in the sense 
of "kingdom." 


victories. This hope is based on God's promise to David 
of eternal dominion, which, though for a time, diverted 
into another channel (the Asmonaean dynasty), should be 
restored in due time under David's greater Son. The 
time is come for the revelation of God's mercy to His 
chosen nation ; Israel is at its lowest point of misery ; 
this is the Lord's opportunity. Let Him send Messiah 
to expel the unrighteous rulers, to cleanse the holy city 
from the heathen, yea, to drive them, out of the holy land, 
and to gather together in one the dispersed of the people. 
But the large promises of God are not satisfied by 
Messiah's reign over Israel alone. His kingdom is over 
all the earth. He unites all peoples under His rule, and 
magnifies the name of God by extending His dominion 
wherever man has his dwelling-place ; and this, not for a 
time only, but for ever. 

Thus far the poet has exhibited only the earthly aspect 
of Messiah's kingdom, His conquests and power, obtained 
without weapons of war, by the word of His mouth. But 
lest this idea of Christ should seem too worldly, he 
hastens to show the significance of this universal sway, 
and its moral and religious effects. Messiah is Himself 
sinless, and reigns in a sinless kingdom. All unright- 
eousness shall be abolished ; there shall be no iniquity in 
the restored Israel. Peace shall reign, and holiness shall 
triumph. Violence and injustice shall be found no more ; 
the pride of sinners shall be extirpated. So grand an 
idea of wisdom and purity shall be exhibited in Israel, 
that distant nations shall flock to Jerusalem to see her 
glory and to learn her ways. 

All this is to happen in God's good time, which, 


in the author's view, is not far distant, even as the 
upostles of the Lord thought that the end was near, and 
expected to see the great consummation in their own 

The Messiah, in this pseudo-Solomon's conception, is 
not very and eternal God. It is indeed not always clear 
whether God or the Christ is the subject of some of his 
paragraphs ; but, taking one passage with another, we 
conclude that he regarded Messiah as the agent and 
organ of God, but not God Himself. He is God's deputy 
and executes His will; but Jehovah is the supreme 
King, and appoints Him as ruler and judge. Here we see 
the defective view of the nature and work of Messiah 
which meets us in the Jews of the New Testament. The 
faith is strong, the expectation is immediate, but the idea 
is erroneous, worldly, carnal, very far inferior indeed to 
that in the Book of Enoch, which is much more spiritual 
and nearer the truth. 

To turn to another point. The writer has a strong 
faith in the Kesurrection of the righteous in the time of 
Messiah, though he does not give expressly his notion of 
the sequence of events at that period. That sinners 
shall rise again does not enter into his view ; nor does he 
state what shall be the fate of the unbelieving portion of 
the , Gentile world in the great future ; though he 
probably held with his contemporaries that exclusion 
from the kingdom of Messiah was equivalent to eternal 
death or annihilation. But the righteous are to rise 
again in order to share the blessings of the Messianic 
reign, and to shine with an everlasting light, and, as 
another pseudo-Solomon says (Wisd. iii. 7), " to run to 


and fro like sparks among the stubble." In the other 
world retribution is to fall upon the sinners ; they shall 
be condemned in the day of judgment, and be destroyed 
as by fire. And sinners, in his view, are not merely 
those who are guilty of moral offences or vulgar wicked- 
ness ; he calls by this name the hypocrites and men- 
pleasers (avOpwrrdpecncoi) of his own nation. Against 
these he inveighs in the bitterest terms. They are 
profane, unclean as the very heathen whose vices they 
imitated ; their heart is far from the Lord ; they have 
provoked the God of Israel to anger, so that He has 
grievously afflicted His people for their sake. And he 
calls for vengeance upon them in this world as well as in 
the next. May their life, he prays, pass in poverty and 
distress ; may their sleep be vexed with pain and their 
waking with misery ; may the work of their hands never 
prosper ; may their old age be childless ; may their dead 
bodies be cast forth dishonoured, and may ravens pick 
out their eyes. " So may God destroy all those who 
work iniquity ; for the Lord is a Judge, great and 
mighty in righteousness " (Ps. iv.). 

While thus uncompromising in his denunciation of in- 
iquity and in his assurance of God's inflexible justice, the 
writer is not insensible to the hope that exists for sinners 
when they repent. If a man is ashamed of his sins and 
confesses them, God will forgive him and cleanse his soul. 
But he must be patient under the rod, and take the 
chastisement as the merciful correction of his error : " He 
that prepareth his back for the scourge shall be justified 
from iniquity ; for the Lord is good to those who endure 
discipline" (Ps. ix., x.). 


These are the Psalmist's words concerning the resur- 
rection : 

They that fear the Lord shall rise again (oLvounwovrai.!) to life ever- 

And their life shall be in the light of the Lord, and shall fail no 

more. (iii. 16.) 

For the Lord will spare His holy ones, 
And will blot out their offences by chastisement ; 
For the life of the righteous is for ever ; 
But sinners shall be taken away for destruction, 
And their memorial shall no more be found ; 
But the mercy of the Lord is upon the holy, 
And His mercy upon them that fear Him. (xiii. 9-11.) 
The holy of the Lord shall live in Him for ever ; 
The Paradise of the Lord, the trees of life, are His holy ones. 
The holy of the Lord shall inherit life in gladness, (xiv. 2, 7.) 

Thus also he speaks concerning the retribution that 
awaits the unrighteous : 

Not so are sinners and transgressors. . . . 

Who have not remembered God, 

That the ways of men are always known unto Him, 

And He understandeth the treasure-chambers (rot^tsix) of the heart 

before they are made. 

Therefore their inheritance is Hades, and darkness, and destruction ; 
And they shall not be found in the day of the mercy of the righteous. 

(xiv. 4-6.) 

He raises me up unto glory, 

But He lays the proud to sleep 1 unto eternal destruction in dishonour, 
Because they knew Him not. (ii. 35.) 

which Fritzsche alters into xofAi^av unnecessarily, for 
the Psalmist has the authority of Euripides for this use of the 
word : 

r Zsi>; 

pho'/fta Kpovfictg. Hec. 472 if. 
Cf. too in the Hebrew, 1 Kings iii. 20 ; 2 Kings iv. 21. 


The mercy of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, while He 

executes His judgment, 
To sever between the just and the sinner, 
To repay sinners for ever according to their works, 
And to have mercy on the righteous while the sinner is humbled, 
And to repay the sinner for what he did to the righteous, (ii. 37-39.) 
He fell ; because evil was his fall and he shall not rise to life again ; 
The destruction of the sinner is for everlasting, 
And God shall not remember him when He visits the righteous ; 
This is the portion of sinners for everlasting, (iii. 13-15.) 
They who do iniquity shall not escape the judgment of the Lord, 
They shall be seized as by skilled enemies ; 
For the mark of destruction shall be upon their foreheads, 
And the inheritance of sinners shall be destruction and darkness, 
And their iniquities shall pursue them unto Hades beneath ; 
Their inheritance shall not be found for their children, 
For their iniquities shall make the house of sinners desolate ; 
And sinners shall perish in the day of the Lord's judgment for 


When God shall visit the earth in His judgment, 
To repay sinners for everlasting, (xv. 9 ff.) 

It will be seen that the destiny of a man is made to 
depend entirely upon his doings during life. He has the 
power of deciding upon his own course. " God," it is 
said (Ps. viii.), "our works are at our choice, and we 
have power over our soul to do righteousness or iniquity 
with the works of our hands." 

The Psalter ends with a hymn of praise to God as the 
Creator, Preserver, and Euler of all things, who, as the 
writer has already said, from present confusion and 
calamity evolves harmony and peace. 

Great is our God and glorious, dwelling in the highest, 

Who hath ordained lights in the path of heaven to divide the time 

from day to day, 
And they have never strayed from the way which Thou commandedst 



In the fear of God hath been their way every day, 

From the day in which God created them, and shall be for evermore ; 

And they have wandered not from the day in which God creator! 


From the generations of old they have never forsaken their way, 
Save when God bade them at the command of His servants. l (xviii. 


1 The tautology in my version is a close rendering of the Greek, 
which, we must remember, is not the original. 




IN the Epistle of St. Jude the following passage occurs 
(vers. 14, 15): "And to these also, Enoch, the seventh 
from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord came 
with ten thousands of His holy ones, to execute judg- 
ment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all 
their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly 
wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly 
sinners have spoken against Him." The question 
immediately arises, Is the apostle quoting from some 
writing extant in his day, or citing merely a prophecy 
preserved by tradition ? The language does not help 
to a solution of the inquiry. Jude writes : " Enoch 

1 In compiling this account, I have availed myself of Bishop 
Laurence's translation of the Book of Enoch, Dillmann's Das Buck 
Henoch, Drummond's The Jewish Messiah, the Cyclopaedias, English 
and German, and the able Dissertation in Dr. Gloag's Introduction to 
the Catholic Epistles. I have also used Ewald's Abhandlung iiber d. 
^thiop. Buches Henokh Entstehung ; Kostlin's " Ueber die Entstehung 
d. Buches Henoeh," in Baur and Zeller's Theolog. Jahrbuch. 1856, 
Heftt 2 and 3 ; and Volkmar's " Beitrage zur Erkliirung des B. 
Henoch ," in Deutsch. morgenl. Zeitschr. 1860. 



. . . \eycov." This might be said equally 
of an actual quotation or of a ' traditional report. But 
when it was discovered that the Fathers and other early 
writers often referred to a writing of Enoch and quoted 
sentences therefrom, it was obvious that they were 
acquainted with some document which bore the patri- 
arch's name, and which was extensively known in early 
Christian centuries. 1 Thus, in the Epistle of Barnabas 
(as it is called), a work composed at the end of the first 
Christian century, we read (iv. 3) : " The final stumbling- 
block hath approached, concerning which it is written, as 
Enoch 2 says, For to this end the Lord hath shortened 
the times and the days, that His beloved may hasten 
and come into the inheritance." In the Testaments of the 
Twelve Patriarchs and in the Book of Jubilees, the words 
of Enoch are frequently cited, and the resemblances to 
passages in our work are numerous. In the former, at 
least, nine passages contain distinct references to Enoch's 
prophetical writings ; and in the latter not only is the 
book often used without acknowledgment, but it is also 
expressly mentioned. Justin Martyr does not quote it 
by name, but his views concerning the angels and their 
connection with man are plainly identical with and 
derived from this book. 3 That Irenreus made use of it 
is evident. Thus he says : 4 " Enoch also, pleasing God 
without circumcision, man though he was, discharged the 

1 The quotations are to be found in Fabricius, Codex Pseudepiyr. 
Vet. Test. i. 161 ff. 

2 One Latin MS. of the Epistle gives " Daniel " instead of " Enoch." 
The sentence does not occur in the text of Enocli which we 

3 Apol ii. 5. * Adv. Hew. iv. 30 ; comp. iv. 16. 2. 


office of legate towards the angels," a fact nowhere 
mentioned but in our work ; " and was translated, and 
is preserved still as witness of the just judgment of 
God" (chaps, xiv., xv.). Tertullian seems to have 
regarded it as inspired. " These things," he writes, 1 
" the Holy Ghost, foreseeing from the beginning the 
future entrance of superstitions, foretold by the mouth 
of the ancient seer Enoch." He adopts Enoch's story 
of the fall of the angels (which, indeed, is common to 
other of the Pseudepigrapha), and their introduction 
of mechanical arts, sorcery, and astrology ; and while 
acknowledging that it was not received into the Jewish 
Canon (armarium Judaicum), he endeavours to show 
how it could have been preserved in the Deluge and 
handed down to Christian times, and that it was rejected 
by the Jews because it too plainly testified of Christ. 
Origen took a lower view of its authority, but he refers 
to it more than once, 2 using its language and adopting 
the ideas, as emanating from one of the greatest of 
prophets. Clement of Alexandria 3 regards it with a 
certain respect while denying its inspiration. " I must 
confess," says St. Augustine, 4 " that some things of Divine 
character were written by Enoch, the seventh from 
Adam, since this is testified by the Apostle Jude in his 
canonical Epistle ; but they are deservedly excluded from 
the Jewish Scriptures, because they lack authority and 
cannot be proved genuine." In the Apostolic Constitu- 

1 De Idol xv. Comp. ibid. iv. De Cult. Fcem. i. 3, ii. 10. 

2 See De Princip. i. 8, iv. 35 ;' Horn, in Num. xxviii. ; Contr. Cels. 
v. 54, p. 267. 

3 Strom, p. 550. 4 De Civit. xv. 23; comp. ibid, xviii. 38. 


tions the book is reckoned among Apocrypha, and it is 
placed in the same category in the Synopsis Athanasii 
and the Catalogue of Nicephorus. By the fifth century 
the book seems to have sunk out of sight, and little or 
nothing more was heard of it till Scaliger (1540-1609) 
discovered some fragments of it in an unpublished MS. 
of the Chronograpliia, of Georgius Syncellus (A.D. 792), 
and printed them. The extracts are given by Fabricius, 
by Laurence and Dillmann, and of them all but one are 
found in our present text of Enoch. The exception is 
a short passage about the doom pronounced on the 
mountain where the angels made their impious con- 
spiracy, and on the sons of men involved in their crime. 
The extracts in Syncellus' work tend to show that the 
Book of Enoch was extant in the Eastern Church for 
some time after it had practically disappeared from the 
Western. That the book was also in the hands of the Jews 
of mediaeval times has been proved by references in the 
Zohar, a kind of philosophical commentary upon the law, 
which contains the most ancient remains of the Cabala. 1 
Thus we read : " The Holy and the Blessed One raised 
him (Enoch) from the world to serve Him, as it is 
written, ' For God took him.' From that time a book 
was delivered down which was called the Book of Enoch. 
In the hour that God took him, He showed him all the 
repositories above ; He showed him the tree of life in 
the midst of the garden, its leaves and its branches. We 
see all in his book." And again, " We find in the Book 
of Enoch, that after the Holy and Blessed One had 

1 Laurence, Prelim. Dissert, xxi. ; Dillmann, Einleit. Ivii. ; Gloag, 
pp. 389 f. 


caused him to ascend, and showed him all the repositories 
of the superior and inferior kingdom, He showed him the 
tree of life, and the tree respecting which Adam had 
received a command ; and He showed him the habitation 
of Adam in the Garden of Eden." Further traces of the 
book have been discovered in other Rabbinical writings, 
but we need not linger on these. 

From the above and similar allusions it was clear to 
all scholars that a book extant under the name of Enoch 
had been well known in earlier days ; but for some 
centuries nothing more certain came to light ; the 
appetite of critics had nothing more definite to feed 
upon. It remained for the great traveller Bruce to 
satisfy the long-unappeased desire for further informa- 
tion. In the year 1773, Bruce astonished the learned 
world by claiming to have secured in Abyssinia, and 
brought safely home, three copies of an Ethiopian version 
of the Book of Enoch. An idea, indeed, had long pre- 
vailed (whence originating it is hard to say) that such a 
version did exist ; and it was thought at one time that a 
certain tract, transmitted from Egypt, and purchased by 
Peiresc for the Eoyal Library at Paris, was the identical 
work. This was found not to be the case ; and warned 
by former disappointment, scholars awaited the examina- 
tion of Bruce's MSS. with some anxiety. Of the three 
copies brought to Europe, one, a most magnificent quarto, 
was presented by the finder to the Library at Paris, and 
another to the Bodleian at Oxford ; the third, kept in his 
own possession, was included in a MS. of the Scriptures, 
where it is placed immediately before the Book of Job, 
assuming an unquestioned position among the canonical 


books. On hearing that Paris possessed this treasure, 
Dr. Woide, librarian of the British Museum, immediately 
set out for France, armed with letters to the ambassador 
desiring him to procure the learned scholar access to the 
work. This was done, and Dr. Woide transcribed the 
whole book, and brought the transcript with him to 
England. His knowledge of Ethiopic was not sufficient 
to enable him to attempt a translation. He might have 
spared himself much trouble had he been aware that 
Oxford possessed a copy of the work ; but the University 
itself received the present very quietly, and let it rest 
undisturbed on its shelves for many years. The Parisian 
MS. was noticed in the Magasin Encycloptdique by the 
Orientalist, De Sacy, who published therein a translation 
of certain passages. But it was not till the year 1821 
that the book was fully brought before the world. In 
that year Dr. Laurence, then Professor of Hebrew at 
Oxford, and afterwards Archbishop of Cashel, published 
a translation of the whole, with preliminary dissertation 
and notes. This has been more than once reprinted, and 
was supplemented in 1838 by the publication of the 
Ethiopic text. The discovery of five different codices 
enabled Dillmann to put forth a more correct text ; and 
his edition, with its German translation, introduction, 
and commentary, is now the standard work on the 
subject. There is another German version by Hoffmann, 
for the latter part of which he had the benefit of a MS. 
in the library of Frankfort-on-the-Maine, lately brought 
from Abyssinia ; and there is also an English translation 
by Professor Schodde, of America, printed at Andover in 
1882 ; but nothing seems likely to supersede Dillmann's 


edition, unless, indeed, the discovery is some day made of 
the original text from which the Ethiopic version was 
rendered. There was indeed at one time a hope of some 
additional light from Mai's discovery of a small fragment 
in Greek among the manuscripts of the Vatican Library. 
But further investigation led to the mortifying fact that 
no more was to be found ; and as the portion extended 
only from ver. 42 to ver. 49 of chap. Ixxxix., it was of 
little practical utility. 

As to the language of the original work, there is no 
reason to doubt that it was Hebrew or Aramaean. It is 
true that the fragments of Syncellus and those found by 
Mai in the Vatican Library are all in Greek, and it was 
from Greek exemplars that the quotations in the Fathers 
were made ; but a critical examination of these extracts 
and of the Abyssinian version leads to the conclusion 
that they are derived from a Hebrew source. To favour 
this verdict, critics are induced by such evidence as the 
following : there are in the version a great number of 
Hebrew idioms and expressions equally foreign to Greek 
and Ethiopic, and all capable of being easily rendered 
back into Hebrew ; the writer or writers were thoroughly 
acquainted with the Scriptures in the original, and did 
not employ the Septuagint version ; the names of the 
angels and archangels are of Hebrew etymology, viz. 
Uriel, Eaphael, Eaguel, Michael, Sarakael, Gabriel ; the 
appellations of the winds can only be explained by a 
reference to the Hebrew, the east wind being so called 
because it is the first, according to Hebrew etymology, 
and the south, because the Most High there descends, the 
Hebrew term being capable of this interpretation. The 


names of the sun, Oryares and Tomas, are Semitic ; so 
are those of the conductors of the months, Melkeel, 
Helemmelek, Meleyal, Narel, etc. ; and, as Dr. Gloag 
observes, OpJianim, mentioned in connection with the 
cherubim and seraphim, is the Hebrew word for the 
" wheels " in Ezekiel. "We are, then, tolerably secure in 
assuming the hypothesis of a Hebrew original. We 
have no criteria to enable us to judge when it was trans- 
lated into Greek. The Ethiopic version was made 
directly from the Hebrew, subsequently to the transla- 
tion of the Old Testament into Ethiopic ; but the date 
is undetermined. If it keeps as close to the original as 
the rendering of Holy Scripture does, it may be regarded 
as a faithful and accurate representation of the text. 

In the Ethiopic MSS. the work is divided into twenty 
sections ; but the chapters are not uniformly arranged. 
Dillmann has retained the twenty sections, and sub- 
divided them into 108 chapters, marking the verses of 
each chapter for greater distinctness of reference. This 
distribution is now generally followed. 

We will first give a sketch of the contents of the 
work before discussing its date and authorship, and 
gathering the lessons which it teaches. 

The book may be said roughly to consist of five parts, 
with an introduction and a conclusion. The general 
introduction, which is contained in the first five chapters, 
commences thus : " The words of blessing of Enoch, 
wherewith he blessed the elect and the righteous who 
shall exist in the time of trouble, when the wicked and 
ungodly shall be removed. Enoch, a righteous man, 
whose eyes God had opened, so that he saw a holy vision 


in the heavens, which the angels showed me, answered 
and spake." The account proceeds in the first person ; 
but throughout there is no consistency shown in this 
matter, changes from the first to the third person being 
frequent, and marking the hand of an editor or inter- 
polator. The vision was for future generations, and in 
it he learned that God would come down on Mount 
Sinai with all His hosts to execute judgment, punishing 
the wicked, rewarding the righteous. Then occurs the 
original of the passage quoted by St. Jude : " Behold, 
He comes with myriads of saints to sit in judgment on 
them, and will destroy the ungodly, and contend with all 
flesh for everything which the sinful and ungodly have 
done and committed against Him." Enoch observed the 
regular order of everything in heaven and earth, which 
obeyed fixed laws and never varied, and he contrasts the 
fate of the good and the evil ; the latter shall find no 
peace and curse their day, while the former shall have 
light, joy, and peace for the whole of their existence. 
The above prelude affords a glimpse of the nature of the 
Book, with its allusions to natural phenomena and its 
eschatological views. 

The first division is contained in chaps, vi. xxxvi., and 
is subdivided into three sections. 1 Section i. (chaps, 
vi.-xi.) narrates the fall of the angels and its immediate 
consequences. Seeing the beauty of the daughters of 
men, two hundred angels under the leadership of 
Semyaza bound themselves by an oath to take wives 
from among mortal women. For this purpose they 
descended on Mount Hermon, and in due time became 
1 I use Dillmann's divisions throughout. 


parents of giants of fabulous height and size. These 
monsters devoured all the substance of men, and then 
proceeded to devour men themselves ; they also taught 
mankind all kind of destructive arts, and vice flourished 
under their instruction. And men cried aloud to 
heaven, and the four archangels heard them, and ap- 
pealed to God in their behalf. And God sent Uriel to 
Noah, the son of Lamech, to warn him of the flood, and 
ordered Eaphael to bind Azazel, and lay him in a dark 
cleft in the wilderness, there to remain till the fire 
received him at the day of judgment. Gabriel had to 
set the giants one against the other that they might 
perish by mutual slaughter ; to Michael fell the duty of 
punishing the evil angels ; they were to witness the 
destruction of their offspring, and then be buried under 
the earth for seventy generations till the judgment day, 
when they should be cast into eternal fire. Then when 
all sin and impurity shall be purged away " at the end 
of all generations," the plant of righteousness shall 
appear, and a new order of things ; the saints shall live 
till they have forgotten a thousand children, and shall 
die in peace ; the earth shall be fruitful, and be planted 
with all manner of trees ; no corruption, or crime, or 
suffering shall be found therein ; " in those days," saith 
God, " I will open the store-chambers of blessing which 
are in heaven, that they may descend upon the earth, 
and on the work and labour of men. Peace and right- 
eousness shall join together, in all the days of the world 
and through all the families of the earth." 

Section ii. (chaps. xii.-xvi.). After it has been said 
that Enoch was hidden from men's sight, being wholly 


engaged with the holy ones, he himself tells how the 
good angels sent him to the fallen angels, whose inter- 
course with heaven was entirely cut off, to announce 
their doom. Terrified, they entreat him to write for 
them a petition to God for forgiveness ; he complies with 
their request, leaves their unholy neighbourhood, and, 
retreating to the region of Dan, falls asleep, and has a 
vision of judgment, which he afterwards is commissioned 
to unfold to the disobedient angels. Their petition is 
refused now and for ever. And the dread answer was 
given to him, as he relates, in a vision, wherein he was 
rapt to the palace of heaven and the presence of the 
Almighty, of which he gives a very noble description. 

Section iii. (chaps. xvii.-xxxvi.) gives an account of 
Enoch's journeys through heaven and earth under the 
guidance of angels, in the course of which he is made 
acquainted with the wonders of nature hidden from man, 
with places, powers, and beings which have relation to 
revealed religion, Messianic hopes, and the last days. 
He is taken to the place where the storm- winds dwell, and 
the sun obtains its fire, and the oceans and the rivers of 
the nether world flow ; he saw seven luminous mountains 
in the south-east, formed of precious stones, and the 
place where the disobedient stars were suffering punish- 
ment, 1 and that which, though now untenanted, shall be 
the penal-prison of the rebel angels after the final judg- 
ment when they are released from their present chains. 
On inquiring for what crime the stars (regarded as living 
beings) were thus sentenced, he is informed by Uriel 

1 These are probably the darepes crXaviJT/, " wandering stars," of 
Jude 13. 


that they had transgressed the commandment of God 
and came not forth in their proper season. He next 
passes to the west, where is Hades, the region where the 
souls of the dead are kept till the judgment ; it is divided 
into four places, unto one of which all souls are assigned. 
In the course of his journeys he comes again to the 
seven fiery mountains, and in a beautiful valley finds the 
tree of life, whose fruit shall be given to the elect. 
Then going to the centre of the earth, he sees the holy 
land and the city Jerusalem, described as " a blessed and 
fruitful place, where there were branches continually 
sprouting from the trees planted therein." Here, too, he 
was shown the accursed valley (Gehenna), where the 
wicked shall suffer their eternal penalty in the sight of 
the righteous, who shall reign' in Zion, and praise the 
Lord for His just vengeance on the evil-doers. He 
proceeds from Jerusalem eastward to the earthly Paradise, 
planted with odorous and fruit-bearing trees, lying at the 
very ends of the earth, and containing the tree of know- 
ledge, of which Adam and Eve ate. Here, where the 
vault of heaven rests on the earth, he beholds the gates 
whence come forth the stars and the winds, and, instructed 
by the angel, writes their names and order and seasons. 
And, arriving at the north, he sees the three gates of the 
north-wind, and, going westward and southward, the 
three gates of these winds. Conducted again to the east, 
he praises the Lord who created all these wondrous 
things for His glory. 

The second division, contained in chaps, xxxvii.-lxxi., 
is called " The second Vision of Wisdom," and consists 
of three parables, allegories, or similitudes, through the 


medium of which Enoch relates the revelations which he 
received concerning the ideal future and the secrets of 
the spiritual world. Many of the matters which he 
mentions we should treat as physical phenomena ; in his 
view they assume a higher relation, and are therefore 
differentiated from the objects described in the preceding 
division which concerned only this earth and the lower 
heavens. The first similitude or figurative address 
(chaps. xxxviii.-xliv.) speaks first of the time when the 
separation between the righteous and sinners shall be 
made, and the angels shall dwell in communion with 
holy men. Then Enoch relates how he was carried to 
the extremity of heaven, and saw the celestial abodes 
prepared for the righteous, where they bless and magnify 
the Lord for ever and ever, and the special seat ordained 
for himself. He beholds the innumerable hosts of angels 
and sleepless spirits who surround the throne of God, 
and particularly the four archangels, Michael, Eaphael, 
Gabriel, and Phanuel, to whom are assigned special 
duties. He is shown the secrets of heaven, the weighing 
of men's actions in the balance, the rejection of sinners 
from the abodes of the just, the mysteries of thunder and 
lightning, winds, clouds, dew, hail, mist, sun, and moon. 
Of these heavenly bodies the regular course and motion 
are their praise of God for creation and preservation, and 
this ceaseless praise is their rest. He finds the habitation 
of Wisdom in heaven, as man on earth would not receive 
her, but welcomed only iniquity. And lastly, he observes 
how the stars are called by name, and their courses 
weighed and examined, and recognises in their regularity 
and obedience a picture of the life of the righteous on earth. 


The second similitude (chaps, xlv. Ivii.) describes the 
coming of " the Chosen One," the Messiah, and the 
operations of His judgment on the good and the evil. 
Sinners shall be taken from the earth and sent down to 
hell to await punishment ; the righteous shall dwell with 
Messiah in peace and happiness. Enoch proceeds to 
give further description of the person and office of Him 
whom he calls " Son of man." To this important 
delineation we shall have to refer in detail hereafter ; 
suffice it here to give a mere outline of the representation. 
He sees this Personification of righteousness in company 
with the Ancient of Days, and he is taught that He 
alone shall reveal all mysteries ; He shall overthrow all 
worldly powers, among which are included sinners who 
scorned and refused to praise the Lord, and shall put an 
end to all unrighteousness. The glorification of the elect 
after the final judgment is further revealed, how they 
shall drink of the fountain of wisdom and righteousness, 
and hold full communion with the saints and angels. 
The Son of man existed before the world was created, 
and shall be in the presence of God for ever, and shall 
bring light and healing to the people. In Him all 
wisdom and righteousness dwell, and at His presence 
iniquity passes away like a shadow. In Messiah's days 
shall be made the great change in the condition of the 
good and evil, and even then it will not be too late for 
the evil to repent, for great is the mercy of the Lord of 
spirits. At this time, too, shall occur the resurrection of 
the dead, the righteous rising with their bodies to enjoy 
Messiah's kingdom, the souls of the wicked being con- 
signed to the place of punishment. There shall then be 


no use for metals ; gold, silver, copper are needed no 
longer ; no earthly riches can save one from judgment. 
A further vision shows the place and instruments of 
punishment. In the midst of this account is inserted an 
interpolation concerning the Noachic Deluge, which is of 
later date than the visions, and is derived from a different 
source. Then follows a prophetical view of the last 
battle of the worldly powers against the Theocracy, and 
their overthrow before Jerusalem ; and the final vision 
displays the Israelites returning to their own land from 
all countries whither they have been dispersed, and 
falling down before the Lord of spirits. 

The third address (chaps. Iviii. Ixix.) contains a further 
description of the blessedness of the righteous contrasted 
with the misery of sinners in Messiah's kingdom. In it 
are inserted many particulars concerning the Deluge, of 
which Noah, not Enoch, is the narrator. Probably these 
portions have been introduced by a later editor desirous 
of showing how the earlier judgment was a figure and an 
anticipation of that in Messiah's days. Likewise, there 
is in this address a recapitulation, with some differences, 
of those physical details which have been previously 
noticed. The blessedness of the saints is comprised in 
light, joy, righteousness, and everlasting life. Amid the 
intimations of the future thus given, Enoch also obtains 
some curious lore concerning thunder and lightning, the 
manner and object of their operation. Here follows the 
interpolation concerning the Flood, which introduces Noah 
receiving the vision " in the five hundredth year, on the 
fourteenth day of the seventh month, of the life of 
Enoch." This is evidently out of place and disconnected 


with the immediate subject. While showing to Noah 
the course of the coming judgment, the angel unfolds 
various meteorological secrets, attributing all the forces 
of nature to the agency of spirits. Then the narrative 
returns to the Messianic revelation, and the seer is 
shown the new Jerusalem, the abode of the elect ; he 
sees the judgment of the saints, he hears their praise 
and worship of Almighty God in union with all the host 
of heaven ; he hears the sentence passed on the mighty 
of this world, who shall in vain supplicate the mercy of 
the Son of man. Five chapters now succeed, containing 
a further account of revelations made to Noah concern- 
ing the Flood, and his deliverance therefrom, and con- 
cerning the fall of the angels and their punishment, and 
the warning thence derived for the mighty of later times. 
The names of these angels are given, and the special 
evil which each effected. One of these is called Penemue, 
and his sin was that he taught men " the art of writing 
with ink and paper, whereby many have gone astray 
from that time to the present." 

The Book of Similitudes concludes with some personal 
details about Enoch himself. An interpolated paragraph 
relates that he was taken up to Paradise ; but the genuine 
text describes how in an ecstasy he was raised to heaven, 
and God promised to give him a seat among the saints 
in the future Messianic kingdom. 

The third division of the book, comprised in chapters 
IxxiL-lxxxii., is entitled " The Book of the Eevolutions 
of the Lights of Heaven," and is occupied greatly with 
astronomical details, which do not give a high idea of 
the scientific attainments of the writer. The attempt to 


bring into a system the notions concerning such pheno- 
mena scattered throughout the Old Testament, in the 
popular ignorance of science, could not fail to produce 
much error and confusion, and has little interest for the 
theologian, unless we conceive that they have been in- 
troduced in order to oppose current heathen ideas, in 
which case they would have a certain historical use. 
This portion of the work falls conveniently into three 
sections. Section 1 treats of the courses of the sun, 
moon, and stars. The regular revolutions of the sun 
are explained, and the varying duration of day and night 
at different seasons ; the waxing and waning of the 
moon are described and accounted for ; it is shown how 
four intercalary days are rendered necessary, and how 
the luminaries go forth from the twelve gates of heaven. 
In section 2 the abodes and operations of the winds are 
noticed. Three of them proceed from each quarter, and 
occasion various effects, healthful or pernicious. At the 
end is an allusion to seven mountains, rivers, and islands, 
which cannot be identified. The third section reverts to 
the subject of the sun and moon, and gives the names 
by which they are known and further particulars re- 
specting their connection with one another. All these 
matters, which Uriel showed to Enoch, the seer divulges 
to his son Methuselah. The angel likewise revealed to 
him the changes in the order of nature which shall 
occur in the days of sinners, in punishment of whom all 
seeming irregularities are sent. Before his spirit re- 
turned to earth, Enoch is bidden to read the heavenly 
tablets wherein all the future was written, even " all the 

deeds of men, and all the children of flesh upon earth, 



unto the remotest generations." On perusing this record, 
Enoch breaks forth in praise of God ; he is then con- 
ducted by " three holy ones " (i.e. probably the three 
archangels inferior to Michael) to his own home, and 
informed that he should be left there for one year, 
during which he should teach what he had learned to 
his children ; and the section concludes with his address 
to Methuselah, directing him to preserve with all care 
the writings committed to him, and to note the import- 
ance of correctness in matters connected with the reckon- 
ing of the year, and the revolutions of the heavenly 
bodies, and the changes of the seasons. 

The fourth division of the book (chaps. Ixxxiii. xci.) 
recounts two visions which Enoch saw before he was 
married, while sleeping in the house of his grandfather 
Malalel (Mahalaleel). The first vision relates to the 
Flood ; he sees the earth sinking into a great abyss, and 
prays that God will not wholly destroy the whole race 
of man, satisfying His just wrath by punishing only the 
evil. The second vision is more comprehensive and 
important; it embraces the history of the world from 
Adam until the establishment of the kingdom of Messiah. 
The account is derived almost entirely from the canonical 
Scripture, a transparent symbolism being used throughout. 
Men are represented under the image of animals, the 
patriarchs and chosen people being denoted by domesti- 
cated animals, as cows and sheep, while heathen and 
oppressive enemies are designated as wild beasts and 
birds of prey. The fallen angels are called stars ; and 
the colours of the animals are symbolical white for 
purity and righteousness, black for wickedness and dis- 


obedience. Thus concerning primitive man we read, 
a white bullock (Adam) sprang forth from the earth, 
<md then a white cow (Eve), and afterwards there came 
a black bullock (Cain) and a red (Abel). The black 
bullock slew the red which vanished from the earth. 
And this black bullock begat many black cattle. And 
the white cow gave birth to a white bullock (Seth), 
which in turn begat much white cattle. In this way 
the history is allegorised. The offspring of the inter- 
course of the angels with the daughters of men is 
adumbrated as elephants, camels, and asses. The arch- 
angels' defeat of these sinful spirits Enoch beholds from 
a high place where he remains till the day of judgment. 
Thence he sees the advance of the Flood, and Noah's 
preservation in the vessel ; his three sons are respectively 
white, red, and black, and the severance of the Shemites 
from the others is distinctly noticed. The history of the 
Israelites is traced from Abraham to Moses, then to the 
settlement in the Holy Land ; then we have the time of 
the Judges, and the annals are continued on through the 
Kings to the Exile. The restoration is duly chronicled, 
and oppressions under the Greeks and Syrians are darkly 
foreshadowed. In chap. Ixxxix. the Lord delivers the 
sheep into the power of lions, tigers, and other beasts of 
prey, which began to tear them in pieces. He Himself 
forsook their house and tower, which, however, were not 
now destroyed. The seer's words in the following para- 
graph have proved a crux to all interpreters. The Lord 
commits the punishment of the chosen people, repre- 
sented as sheep, to seventy shepherds, who rule suc- 
cessively in four series, in the proportion of twelve, 


twenty-three, twenty-three, twelve. " I saw until three 
and twenty shepherds overlooked the herd, and they 
completed in their time fifty-eight times. Then were 
little lamhs born of those white sheep, and they began 
to open their eyes and to see and to cry out to the 
sheep. And the sheep hearkened not unto them. And 
the ravens flew upon the lambs, and took one of them, 
and tore and devoured the sheep. And I saw horns 
grow upon those lambs, and the ravens threw down the 
horns, until one great horn grew, one from those sheep, 
and then their eyes were opened. It looked upon them, 
and cried unto them, and the youths (the lambs) saw it 
and ran unto it." Then comes an account of a terrible 
conflict between the birds of prey and the lambs ; but 
the former could not prevail against the horn. " He 
(the horn) struggled with them, and cried out for help. 
And there came the man who wrote the names of the 
shepherds and laid them before the Lord of the sheep, 
and he came to the assistance of the youth ; and the 
Lord Himself came in wrath, and all who saw Him fled 
away before His face ; while the birds assembled together, 
and brought with them all the sheep of the field to break 
the horn of the youth." But their efforts are vain, and 
in the end they are themselves destroyed by the Lord. 
This defeat introduces the Messianic epoch, when Israel 
shall rise superior to the heathen, and Messiah shall 
judge all sinners, whether angels or men, and shall estab- 
lish the new Jerusalem, which shall be filled with a holy 
people gathered from all quarters. 

This portion of the work closes with an address of 
Enoch to his children, exhorting them to lead a holy life, 


founding his lecture on the certainty of the future which 
the preceding visions have delineated. 

The fifth division of the book (chaps, xcii. cv.) is 
called "An Instruction of Wisdom," and contains the 
practical application of the four preceding portions, 
addressed by Enoch primarily to his own family, and 
then to all the inhabitants of the earth. He opens the 
subject by predicting the resurrection of the righteous 
and the destruction of sinners. "The righteous," he 
says, " shall arise from sleep and advance in the way 
of righteousness, and his whole walk shall be in eternal 
goodness and grace. Mercy shall be shown him ; he 
shall receive dominion, and walk in everlasting light ; 
but sin shall perish in darkness for ever, and shall no 
more be seen from this day forward." Before he begins 
his exhortation, he recounts in brief what he had seen in 
visions and had read in the heavenly tablets concerning 
the ten weeks of the world, of which seven belong to the 
historical past, three to the apocalyptical future. The 
first week is concerned with Enoch, the second with 
Noah, the third with Abraham, the fourth with Moses, 
the fifth with the building of the temple, the sixth with 
its destruction, the seventh with the introduction of an 
apostate generation. He intimates that he himself lived 
at the end of the first week. This would be in due 
accordance with the personification. The eighth week is 
the commencement of the Messianic era, when the sword 
of the righteous shall overcome the oppressors, and the 
new Jerusalem shall be established. In the ninth week 
the knowledge of Jehovah shall be spread over the world, 
and all men shall be forced to acknowledge His power 


and equity. The tenth and last week ushers in the final 
judgment on angels and men : the old world shall pass 
away, and a new heaven shall appear, and earthly life 
shall be merged in the heavenly. After this preliminary 
apocalyptical address, the hortatory portion follows, the 
admonitions to the righteous and to sinners being inter- 
mixed. The former are exhorted to continue stedfast 
in their integrity, and woe is denounced on various classes 
of the latter. The seer weeps to think of the oppression 
of the good at the hands of the evil, but is comforted by 
the knowledge of the final victory of the saints at the 
coming of Messiah, and the punishment of the unrighteous. 
Then he sternly reproaches sinners, detailing their folly 
in many instances, and showing what judgment shall be 
awarded them. Finally he turns again to the righteous, 
comforts them in their tribulations, exhorts them to hope 
and patience by exhibiting their future happy lot and 
blessedness. They can die in peace, because for them 
death is the entrance to a better life. And to enforce 
his words he solemnly adds : " I swear to you, ye 
righteous, by His mighty power and glory, by His king- 
dom and majesty, I comprehend this mystery, and have 
read the heavenly tablets, and have seen the book of the 
holy ones, and have found written therein that all good- 
ness, joy, and honour are prepared for the spirits of those 
who have died in righteousness, and that with much good 
shall ye be recompensed for your troubles, and your lot 
shall be better than that of the living." l And these books 
of his shall be handed down to posterity and translated 

1 The passage inserted in chap. xci. 12-17 plainly belongs to chap, 
xciii., and has been rightly introduced there by Laurence. 


into different languages, and shall be to the good a 
source of joy, righteousness, and wisdom, and all who 
believe in them and have learned the lessons there 
taught shall receive the reward. The section ends with 
the Lord's own words : " I and my Son will unite 
Ourselves with them for ever, because they have walked 
in the paths of uprightness. And peace shall be upon 
you ; rejoice, ye children of righteousness, in truth." 

The book might naturally terminate here, but, appar- 
ently by another hand, two sections are added, one con- 
cerning the supernatural circumstances attending the 
birth of Noah and the prediction of the Flood (cvi.-cvii.); 
and the other consisting of a writing of Enoch respecting 
the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the 
wicked, composed, as he says, " for his son Methuselah, 
and for those who should come after him, and observe 
the law in the last days" (cviii.). Here he mentions 
how in his journeyings he has seen the place of torment, 
which he describes as a waste outside the earth, and a 
bottomless sea of fire. The work thus concludes with 
God's promise to the righteous : " I will bring into 
brilliant light those who love my holy name, and set 
them each on his throne of glory ; and they shall shine 
for endless ages ; for righteous is the judgment of God, 
and to the true will He give truth in the habitation of 
uprightness. And they shall see how those who were 
born in darkness shall into darkness be cast, while the 
righteous shine. And sinners shall cry out, and shall 
see how these glow with light, and shall continue in their 
punishment all the times prescribed for them." 

The uncritical receptivity of primitive Christianity 


regarded the name attached to this book as a sufficient 
attestation of its genuineness. Thus, as we have seen, 
Tertullian, while acknowledging that some in his day 
declined to accept the work, because it was not included 
in the " Armarium Judaicum," the Hebrew canon, himself 
opined that it was written by Enoch, and either pre- 
served in the time of the Flood, or restored by Noah 
under Divine inspiration. Nor have there been wanting 
some good people in our own times, with more credulity 
than critical ability, who have freely accepted the ante- 
diluvian authorship and endeavoured to prove that the 
writer was inspired to predict events down to modern 
times. I have seen some passages in our book distorted 
even to enunciate the claims and operations of the British 
and Foreign Bible Society and the sinister actions of 
Eussian politics. But leaving these dreams, let us come 
to something more practical. No one nowadays believes 
that the patriarch Enoch had any hand in the com- 
position of the book which bears his name. This 
appellation is only another example of the pseudepi- 
graphic idea which dominated so many writers in the 
period immediately preceding and succeeding the com- 
mencement of the Christian era. The sanctity and 
remarkable destiny of Enoch, the hoar antiquity with 
which he was associated, designated him as a fit person- 
age to be the mouthpiece of revelations designed for a 
special purpose and needing the authorisation of a great 
name. One who himself had been admitted to immediate 
intercourse with the Most High was peculiarly fitted to 
reveal Divine mysteries. That no allusion to the pro- 
duction is made in the Old Testament is obvious ; that 


some portion of it was extant in the first Christian 
century is certified by the quotation in St. Jude's Epistle. 
But this certainty will carry us but a little way, as no 
one can read the work without concluding that it is not 
the composition of one author or one age, but exhibits 
difference of origin and date ; and if the section from 
which Jude took his extract presupposes a Jewish and 
pre-Christian source, other parts may be of quite another 
character and have no pretension to any such claim. It 
is a difficult matter (even when we have distributed the 
work into its several sections) to determine the relation 
of these parts to each other, and to assign to them their 
proper position in the treatise. There is no external 
testimony to appeal to, and we must be guided in our 
conclusions entirely by internal considerations. 

Now in all these writings occurs this marked charac- 
teristic. There is past history given in the form of 
revelation, combined with hopes and predictions of the 
future. In the former case events are pretty accurately 
represented, either actually or symbolically ; in the latter 
the seer allows himself free latitude for the display of 
imagination and the possible development of previous 
prophetic hints. The difficulty consists in exactly de- 
fining the point where history terminates and prediction 
commences. Usually no hint is given of any such inter- 
change ; one phase passes into the other with nothing to 
mark the passage. If in any particular instance we 
could say with certainty, here the author writes of 
contemporary events, and here he crosses from the actual 
to the ideal, we should at once possess a criterion for 
determining the date of the composition. Some such 


opportunity is supposed to be found in chap, xc., where 
at ver. 16 the emblematical account of past history 
merges into the expectations of the future. The vision 
to which we refer (chaps. Ixxxv. xc.) traces the annals 
of Israel from Adam to the great consummation of 
mundane affairs. If our readers will refer to the previous 
account of the contents of the book, they will see that 
in this Apocalypse the chosen people are represented 
under the image of domesticated animals, while heathens 
and enemies are denoted by wild beasts and birds of 
prey. The allusions are fairly intelligible unto the 
Captivity ; but now comes the paragraph which has 
exercised the ingenuity of interpreters, and upon the 
exposition of which the determination of one date 
depends. About the time of the destruction of Jeru- 
salem the Lord commits the punishment of the chosen 
people to seventy shepherds, who are told which victims 
they were to allow to be killed by the wild beasts, and 
how many, at the same time intimating that they will 
exceed their commission and destroy many more than 
the appointed number. Likewise He ordered " Another " 
to note the number of sheep thus destroyed. These 
shepherds executed their commission, and delivered the 
sheep into the hands of the lions and tigers, who burnt 
the tower and demolished the house. But the shepherds 
gave over to the beasts many more than they were 
ordered to do. And when they had ruled for twelve 
hours, three of the sheep returned and began to rebuild 
the house and tower. But the sheep mingled with the 
beasts, and the shepherds rescued them not. When 
thirty-five shepherds had fed them, birds of prey attacked 


them; and when twenty-three shepherds had tended the 
flock, and fifty-eight times were completed in all, then 
little lambs were born with the results of which we read 
above. These seventy shepherds are divided into four 
series, consisting respectively of 12, 23, 23, 12 
members. The last of these members would bring us 
to the author's own time. Can we with any probability 
elucidate this riddle ? The explanations have been as 
numerous as the commentators, and we might easily 
refute their theories by simply comparing one with the 
other. Out of the confusion thus created we may thank 
Dillmann and Ewald for helping to deliver us. They 
and others 1 have seen that an attempt was here made to 
give a new interpretation to the seventy years of which 
Jeremiah had spoken as the period of the Captivity, and 
which had not been followed by that complete restora- 
tion which had been anticipated. Hereupon the literal 
exposition was surrendered ; and another theory was 
started which would account for the partial failure and 
point to its remedy. The seventy shepherds, according 
to these interpreters, are foreign and heathen rulers, 
represented in the prophets as seventy weeks ; and they 
continue to oppress the chosen people till overcome by 
the great horn, whose victories herald the advent of the 
Messiah. There is great difficulty in defining the 
seventy rulers, and it is only with much accommodation 
that history can be forced into agreement with the 
writer's supposed idea. Hence it has been proposed to 
see in these shepherds, not kings, but angels appointed 
to superintend the chastisement of Israel at the hands 
1 Especially Drummond, Stanton, and Schurer. 


of her enemies. As Drummond points out, these 
shepherds receive their commission at the same time, 
which would hardly have been the case had they repre- 
sented successive monarchs. And further, at the judg- 
ment in the delectable land they are placed with the 
fallen angels; and the one who is deputed to write 
down the number of sheep destroyed is called " another " 
(angel) ; while the duty of protecting the flock from the 
wild beasts could not have been entrusted to Gentile 
powers. 1 If, however, we held the usual interpretation 
of the vision, we should have to explain it in the follow- 
ing way : The first group of twelve shepherds comprises 
five Assyrian kings, three Chaldnean and four Egyptian, 
from Necho II. to Amasis, under whom, more or less, the 
Israelites suffered injuries. The second group of twenty- 
three consists of Persian monarchs, from Darius and 
Cyrus. These 12 + 23 make up 35, the half of the 
seventy. The next group, consisting also of twenty- 
three, is composed of Grreco- Macedonian kings, from 
Alexander to his successors, the Ptolemies, Seleucidse, 
down to Antiochus Epiphanes. The final twelve range 
in the Syrian line, from this Antiochus to the close of 
the reign of Demetrius II. This lands us at B.C. 125. 
The attempt, however, at exact interpretation is eminently 
unsatisfactory, while the general features of the scheme 
are clear enough ; and following Schiirer's lucid explana- 
tion, we may arrange the matter thus. The seventy 
shepherds are angels entrusted with the superintendence 
and punishment of Israel, who neglected their duty and 

1 See chaps. Ixxxvii. 2, xc. 20 ff. Drummond, p. 40 ; Schiirer, 
p. 64. 


were doomed to hell. The time of the Gentile supremacy 
is divided into four periods, two of shorter and two of 
longer duration, as we have seen above. The first 
period begins from the date of the earliest Gentile 
invasion (e.g. Assyrian) to the return in the days of 
Cyrus, the three returning sheep being Zerubbabel, Ezra, 
and Nehemiah. The second period reaches from Cyrus 
to Alexander the Great, the substitution of birds of prey 
for wild beasts (xc. 2) marking the transition from 
Persians to Greeks. The third extends from Alexander 
to Antiochus Epiphanes, the lambs symbolising the 
Maccabees. And the fourth extends from the com- 
mencement of the Maccabsean to the author's own time. 
This brings us to the "last third of the second century 
B.C." The stirring events of the previous twenty or 
twenty-five years are symbolically depicted. The little 
lambs of the vision are the pious who rose against the 
Syrian tyrants, the ravens who tore and devoured them ; 
the sheep with horns are the Maccaboean leaders, who at 
first had but little success ; and one of them in particular 
was carried off by the enemy. This is Jonathan, the son 
of Mattathias, 1 who, B.C. 143, was treacherously murdered 
by Tryphon in Gilead. In similiar figures are repre- 
sented the defeat and death of Judas and Simon. The 
great horn which afforded refuge to the persecuted is 
John Hyrcanus, and the account of the terrible conflict 
between him and the enemies of Israel merges here into 

1 This Mattathias was the youngest brother of the great Judas 
Maccabseus. The " great horn " is by some supposed to represent 
Judas himself, but the particulars of the vision do not well suit this 
theory. See Dillmann and Stanton. 


the apocalyptical future. So it is at this point that we 
may place the meeting of history and revelation, and 
consequently the composition of this portion of our 

But our task is by no means ended even if we have 
satisfactorily determined the age of one section. Were 
the work one whole, and evidently the production of one 
author, to fix the date of one portion would be sufficient 
to determine the approximate date of the rest. But we 
have every reason to see in the various divisions different 
authors and different times of composition. Without 
entering minutely into details, we may say that it is now 
generally agreed that at least three authors have con- 
tributed to the work. The earliest portion, and that 
which forms the ground -work of the whole (omitting 
certain interpolations), is found in chaps. i.-xxxvi. and 
lxxii.-cv. If the author of the historical vision were 
the writer of this portion, the date of the greater part of 
the whole work would be determined. There is nothing 
to guide one to the date in the first thirty-six chapters, 
but in the latter part of this section there are plain 
intimations of the same conclusion that has already 
been reached. The writer in chaps, xciii. 1-14 and 
xci. 12-17 (which has been displaced) gives another 
sketch of the world's history divided into ten weeks, or 
periods. In agreement with the personification, Enoch 
intimates that he himself lived at the close of the first 
epoch. The next five weeks are marked with tolerable 
distinctness as the epoch of Noah, of Abraham and Isaac, 
of Moses, of Solomon, of the Captivity. At the end of 
the seventh week comes the vision of Messiah's kingdom. 


We have to determine the duration of this last period. 
It is impossible to affix any definite number of years to 
each week, as the duration of each plainly varies most 
considerably ; it has therefore seemed expedient to 
reckon by generations, counting seven to a week in the 
earlier times and fourteen in the later periods. 1 This 
looks like an arbitrary proceeding, one of those accom- 
modations to which critics resort in order to confirm a 
foregone conclusion. But there are substantial grounds 
in this case for the notion. It will be seen that seven 
generations each will cover the first five weeks, the first 
being from Adam to Enoch, the last from Salmon to 
Eehoboam. The sixth, according to Drummond's calcula- 
tion (omitting, as in St. Matthew, Ahaziah, Joash, and 
Amaziah), consists of fourteen generations from Abijam 
to Salathiel. The seventh, taking the series of high 
priests, and excluding Jason, Menelaus, and Alcimus, as 
Philo-Grrecists, ends with Jonathan, Simon, and John 
Hyrcanus thus landing us at the result previously 
obtained by another road. Of course, there is a doubt 
concerning the conclusion of the series ; but in any case 
the discrepancy will amount to little more than twenty 
years, and the date of composition of this portion of the 
work may be fixed between B.C. 153 and 130, or in the 
latter half of the second century before Christ. 2 

If we are satisfied with the results thus obtained (and 

1 Drummond, p. 42. 

2 There is an allusion in this vision which seems to imply that 
the book was composed in this seventh week. It is said (chap, 
xciii. 10) that in this week to the just " shall be given sevenfold 
instruction concerning every part of His creation." This, doubtless, 
refers to the portion of our work which treats of natural phenomena. 


nothing more reliable is to be discovered), we have 
settled the approximate age of two considerable portions 
of our book. Another section (chaps, xxxvii.-lxxi.), 
containing the three parables or similitudes, affords little 
internal help for determining its date. It is evidently a 
section distinguished from the rest in character and 
treatment. There is a difference in the use of the names 
of God, who is called in this part " Lord of spirits," in 
the angelology, the eschatology, and especially in the 
doctrine of the Messiah, which is much more prominent 
and definite than in the other divisions. Another 
peculiarity to which Kostlin directs attention is, that 
contrasted with the pious are not the ungodly in general 
(as commonly elsewhere), but Gentile rulers and the 
mighty ones of earth. Ewald finds herein a reason for 
considering this to be earlier than the rest, because the 
enemies denounced are foreign and heathen, while in 
the other parts the sinners are faithless and renegade 
Israelites, such as were not heard of till the time of 
Antiochus Epiphanes. But on the same ground Hilgen- 
feld concludes that it was written after the fall of 
Jerusalem ; so that no argument can be securely based 
on this peculiarity. There is one historical allusion 
which has been supposed to give a hint in this direction. 
In chap. Ivi. we are told that the Parthians and Medes 
shall work destruction in the Holy Land, and shall in 
turn suffer vengeance at the hand of the Lord, turning 
upon and destroying one another ; and it is argued hence 
that an incursion by them had recently happened, as in 
B.C. 40, when they overran Phosnicia and Palestine, 1 or 
1 Joseph. Antiq. xiv. 13 ; Bell. Jud. i. 13. 


that at any rate they were the enemies most dreaded in the 
author's time. But the inference is wholly unwarranted. 
The writer is not referring to any historical events that 
had come under his own cognisance, but is giving 
expression to his predictive anticipations based on the 
revelation of Ezekiel, chaps, xxxviii., xxxix. A surer 
criterion is found in the Messianic references, which 
show marked development when compared with the 
statements in the former part, as we shall see later on. 
It is also noted that, while the Book of Jubilees (which 
we suppose to have been written at the earliest in the 
century preceding the Christian era) shows acquaintance 
with other portions of our work, it never makes any 
allusion to the marked peculiarities of these three 
parables. From this we gather that this section was 
unknown to the writer of the " Jubilees," or was then 
not extant. The language used at the commencement of 
the section implies the existence of other books of Enoch. 
We here read, " The second vision of wisdom, which 
Enoch saw ; " and the " similitudes " which succeed are 
evidently the complement of the preceding revelations, 
introducing themes of higher character, and rising from 
mundane and material elements to matters of heavenly 
and spiritual signification. We may reasonably con- 
jecture that it was composed some few years later than 
the preceding portion. 

There remain the Noachian sections which are intro- 
duced often most inappropriately, and are now found in 
chaps, liv. 7-lv. 2,lxv. Ixix., cvi.-cvii., and scattered con- 
fusedly in some other places. 1 In chap. Ixviii. 1, the 
1 E.g. xxxix. 1, 2, lx., and perhaps xvii. and xix. 


Book of the Allegories of Enoch is expressly mentioned, 
so that these paragraphs must be of later date. They 
are probably derived from some lost Apocalypse of Noah, 
and have been inserted by some late editor, who, 
without much critical skill, wove the materials into a 
form which would give a quasi unity to the whole. The 
last chapter (cviii.) is probably the latest of all, though 
there is nothing in it to determine its date accurately. 

The great fact which seems most surely ascertained is 
that the Book of Enoch is, with the exception of some 
few possible interpolations, of pre-Christian origin. It 
was written certainly before the Eomans had obtained 
possession of Palestine, as throughout the whole work there 
is no mention whatever of them, and they never appear 
as the enemies of Israel. No knowledge of the New 
Testament is anywhere exhibited ; the name of Jesus 
never appears ; His death and resurrection are not 
mentioned ; l all that is of Christological import might 
fairly be gathered from the Old Testament. The writer 
especially had studied the prophecies of Daniel, and 
derived much of his language and matter therefrom, 
amplifying what he found in previous utterances, and 
colouring it with his own poetical and often crude 
fancies. 2 

As to the place where the authors lived, we have good 
reason for asserting this to be Palestine. This situation 

1 It is curious that in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, 
under Levi, occurs an allusion to a prediction of Messiah's rejection, 
death, and resurrection, stated to be found in the Book of Enoch. No 
such passage is now extant in that work, and if it ever existed, it 
was probably a Christian interpolation. 

2 See Dr. Pusey's Lectures on Daniel, pp. 382 ff. 


best accords with the circumstances revealed in the 
various treatises. Here we find individuals and the 
nation oppressed by foreign influence, and fervent aspira- 
tions for relief and freedom, showing a state of things 
which could only be experienced in the Holy Land itself. 
The attempts which have been made to determine the 
writers' locality by reference to the astronomy and 
geography of the treatises are quite futile. In both 
sciences the seers were far from being adepts, and to 
guide oneself to a decision through the fog of imaginary 
and erroneous details is a hopeless task. 

Nothing can be determined concerning the names of 
the authors. Does the Apostle Jude, by quoting a 
passage in the book as the production of " Enoch, the 
seventh from Adam," authorise the attribution of the 
work or of this section to the patriarch ? Such has been 
the contention of some, who hold that the passage in 
question at any rate was a fragment handed down by 
tradition from antediluvian times. But the verse is 
manifestly an integral part of the paragraph in which it 
appears, exactly suitable to and connected with the 
existing context, and it must meet with the same treat- 
ment at our hands as the rest of the section. We have 
seen to what date we must relegate this book, and that 
it has no pretension to any such hoar antiquity as the 
critics above would assign to it. Doubtless it was well 
known in early Christian times, and Jude and his con- 
temporaries were familiar with it. Without any idea of 
giving a decided opinion concerning its authorship, and 
citing the words merely in illustration of his statement 
{as St. Paul quoted Menander and Aratus), Jude cursorily 


appeals to a work with which his readers were familiar, 
and gives it that title by which it was generally known. 
By using this quotation for a special purpose, Jude does 
not give his sanction to the whole contents of the. work 
in which it is now contained. All that he endorses with 
his authority is this particular passage ; and in attributing 
it to Enoch, he is speaking either from direct inspiration, 
or, as is more probable, merely repeating current tradition. 
We may confidently affirm that of the authors who more 
or less have contributed to the book in its entirety we 
know nothing ; nor, indeed, have we any grounds for 
conjecturing their identity. That they were more than 
one is proved by the different uses and expressions which 
obtain in the several portions ; e.g. (as we have already 
observed) the title Lord of spirits, applied to Clod so 
commonly in one section, is not found elsewhere ; the 
angelology differs ; the Messianic presentation is not 
identical, nor the eschatology. The attribution of the 
work to Enoch is doubtless owed to the fact that popular 
tradition assigned to him the reception of revelations 
concerning the secrets of nature and other mysteries, the 
discovery of the alphabet, and the writing of the earliest 
books that the world ever saw. 

"We have now to speak of the teaching of this book 
and the lessons to be drawn from it. Granting that it is 
of pre-Christian origin, these are of great interest and 
importance, as bearing on Jewish opinion in days im- 
mediately preceding the appearance of Christ. But there 
is one preliminary question to settle, and that is whether 
any or what use of this work was made by subsequent 
Christian writers. A reader at a late Church Congress 


astonished and scandalised many of his hearers by boldly 
asserting that St. John in the Apocalypse had merely 
plagiarised from certain extant productions of a similar 
nature. This profane theory was not altogether novel, 
and it requires mention here since the Book of Enoch has 
been appealed to as strongly confirming the idea of 
Christian writers' indebtedness to previous apocryphal 

The author of The Evolution of Christianity, in re- 
publishing Lawrence's translation of our book, endeavours 
in his introduction to prove that Enoch's work is the 
source of many Christian opinions and mysteries, 
primitive Christianity having " freely appropriated his 
visions as the materials of constructive dogmas." The 
writer accepts without question the Archbishop's views of 
llit 1 , origin, date, and locality of the work, except that he 
is inclined to think that the compiler of the Book of 
Daniel borrowed from Enoch rather than vice versa. He 
proceeds to give instances of the influence of Enoch on 
subsequent writers and opinions. A few of these we will 
cite. The theory of the immobility of the earth, for 
denying which mediaeval physicists were condemned to 
the stake, is traced to a statement in Enoch (chap, xviii.) 
concerning the stone which supports the corners of the 
earth, and the four winds which uphold the earth and the 
firmament. But the idea is found in Job xxxviii. 6 ; Ps. 
xx iv. 2, etc. ; and concerning the winds carrying the 
earth, we may compare Job xxvi. 7 with ix. 6 and Ps. 
Ixxv. 3. The fate of the fallen angels and the happiness 
of the elect are described in the Book ; therefore the 
Christian view of these matters is derived thence. To 


this source is traced the teaching concerning the Messiah 
prevalent in the age immediately preceding and suc- 
ceeding the appearance of Christ. Then we have a series 
of passages from the New Testament paralleled by 
extracts from Enoch wjrich are supposed to have been in 
the Christian writers' minds when they spoke or com- 
posed the utterances which we now possess. Most of 
these citations are of very insignificant similarity ; many 
are such as might be found in any works treating of 
analogous subjects, without any notion of plagiarism, and 
many more are simply derived from the canonical books 
of the Old Testament. The "meek shall inherit the 
earth," says our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount 
(Matt. v. 5) ; " the elect shall inherit the earth," says 
Enoch v. 7. " Woe unto you which are rich ; for ye 
have received your consolation " (Luke vi. 44). " Woe 
to you who are rich, for in your riches have you trusted ; 
but from your riches you shall be removed " (Enoch xciv. 
8). " The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they 
sacrifice to devils and not to God" (1 Cor. x. 20). "So 
that they sacrificed to devils as to gods " (Enoch xix. 1). 
The same idea is found in Bar. iv. 7, and in the Sept. 
Version of Ps. xcv. 5, cv. 37; Deut. xxxii. 17. The 
" great gulf fixed " between the souls in Hades (Luke 
xvi. 26) is paralleled by a passage (Enoch xxii. 9), mis- 
translated, " Here their souls are separated by a chasm ; " 
the correct rendering being, " Thus are the souls of the 
just separated ; there is a spring of water above it, light " 
(Schodde) ; and our Lord in the parable gives the 
prevalent opinion without comment. The rapture of St. 
Paul (2 Cor. xii.) and St. John (Rev. xvii., xix.) is 


similar to what befell Enoch (chap, xxxix.) in some 
respects ; but one is not dependent on the other in 
details or description. Enoch hears the angels calling 
on God, as Lord of lords and King of kings (chap, 
ix. 3, 4) ; did St. John therefore borrow the expression 
(Rev. xvii. 14, xix. 6) from him? The apostle speaks 
of the tree of life (Eev. ii. 7, xxii. 2, 14); Enoch also 
(xxiv., xxv.) tells of such a tree, which is plainly derived 
from Gen. ii. 9, iii. 22, and is alluded to elsewhere, as 
Prov. iii. 18, xi. 30, etc. ; 4 Esdr. viii. 62 ; "Testament. 
Levi." xviii. The tribulations of the last days as 
delineated in Matt. xxiv. are not unlike the predictions 
in Enoch Ixxx. ; but no one reading the two would 
gather that they were borrowed one from the other, the 
variations being numerous, and actual identity not 
appearing anywhere. There is a book connected with 
the judgment in Enoch (chap, xlviii.), as in Rev. xx. ; 
but so there is in Ex. xxxii. 32 ; Ps. Ixix. 28 ; Dan. 
xii. 1, etc. In Rev. v. 11 the number of angels is 
called " ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands 
of thousands ; " so in Enoch (chap. xl. 1) we read of " a 
thousand times thousand, and ten thousand times ten 
thousand beings, standing before the Lord," which is 
merely like Dan. vii. 10 ; Deut. xxxiii. 2. The new 
heavens and the new earth, adumbrated in 2 Pet. iii. 13 
and Rev. xxi. 1, are expected by Enoch (chaps, xlv., 
xci. 16). The latter passage is perhaps an interpolation, 
and the former is based on Isa. Ixv. 17, Ixvi. In 
1 Tim. iv. 1, 2 we read, " The Spirit speaketh expressly, 
that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, 
through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies ; " and St. 


Paul is thought to have plagiarised from Enoch civ., 
"and now, I know this mystery that the words of 
rectitude will be changed, and many sinners will rebel, 
and will speak wicked words, and will lie and make 
great works, and write books concerning their words '' 
(Schodde). Of this character and of no nearer identity 
are all the passages adduced by the critic as parallel ; 
and, relying on such citations, we are asked to believe 
that our Lord and His apostles, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, introduced into their speech and writings ideas 
and expressions most decidedly derived from Enoch. 
Few unprejudiced persons will agree with the author of 
this opinion, whose aim seems to be to throw discredit 
upon the superhuman origin of Christianity, and to trace 
it to merely human development. According to him, 
" the work of the Semitic Milton was the inexhaustible 
source from which evangelists and apostles, or the men 
who wrote in their names, borrowed their conceptions of 
the resurrection, judgment, immortality, perdition, and of 
the universal reign of righteousness under the eternal 
dominion of the Son of man." Yet the same ideas run 
through all the pseudepigraphic writings, a fact of which 
our flippant author seems to be wholly unaware. The 
writer, as he deems, puts orthodox believers in a 
dilemma : either Enoch was an inspired prophet and 
the New Testament writers were justified in using his 
words as Divine utterances, or he was a visionary and 
fraudulent enthusiast, whose illusions were erroneously 
accepted by apostles and evangelists, who thus lose their 
claim to inspiration. Happily, there is a third alter- 
native : the New Testament writers have not borrowed 


from Enoch, save in the single quotation by St. 

But enough of this. Let us see what is the Christ- 
ology of our book, and its Messianic utterances. 1 First, 
as to the names applied to the Messiah. He is called 
The Anointed One, the Christ (chap, xlviii. 10, lii. 4); 
The Righteous (xxxviii. 2) ; The Elect (xl. 5, xlv. 3, 4) ; 
The Son of man (xlvi. 2); Son of the Woman (Ixii. 5). 
This last title occurs only once, and seems intended to 
accentuate the fact that He is very man. Of the 
Christian verity, that Jesus was incarnate by the Holy 
Ghost of the virgin, there is no trace. But to this 
Christ is attributed pre - existence with other Divine 
attributes. Thus in the second similitude we read 
(chap. xlvi. 1-3), " There I saw one who had a Head of 
days (age-marked), and His head was white as wool (Dan. 
vii. 9) ; and with Him was another, whose countenance 
resembled that of man ; and full of grace was His coun- 
tenance, like one of the holy angels. And I asked one 
of the angels, who went with me and showed me all the 
hidden things, about that Son of man, 2 who He was, and 

1 Drummond looks with, suspicion 011 most of these allusions to 
Messiah as interpolations by a Christian or semi-Christian editor. 
There is really nothing to show the reasonableness of this notion ; 
and were it true, it would be difficult to account for the vagueness 
of the statements, the reticence concerning the facts of Christ's life, 
and the apparent inconsistency in some of the expressions used and 
actions attributed to Him. A writer who desired to propagate 
Christian ideas among his countrymen would not have contented 
himself with statements concerning Messiah's advent in glory, and 
have omitted all notice of His previous humiliation. 

2 " Son of man " was probably currently iised as a title of the 
Messiah at the time of the composition of the Allegories, as it was 


whence He was, and why he went with the Head of 
days ? And he answered me, and said to me : " This is 
the Son of man, who has righteousness, with whom 
righteousness dwells, and who reveals all the treasures 
of that which is hidden, because the Lord of spirits hath 
chosen Him, and His lot before the Lord of spirits hath 
surpassed every other through righteousness for ever and 
ever." The angel goes on to say that this Son of man 
will raise up kings and mighty men from their thrones, 
and hurl those that obey not to destruction, and break 
the teeth of sinners, and terribly punish those who extol 
not the name of the Lord of spirits. Before sun and 
moon were created, or the stars were made, His name 
was named before the Lord of spirits ; and, being chosen 
to do great things hereafter, He was hidden, and revealed 
only, till He came into the world, by imparting treasures 
of wisdom to the elect. For in Him dwells the spirit of 
wisdom, and the spirit of Him who gives insight, and the 
spirit of instruction and power, and the spirit of those 
who are fallen asleep in righteousness. 1 He has not yet 
appeared on earth, but in due time He will come to 
execute vengeance on sinners, and to receive homage at 
the hands of the mightiest in the world. To Him all 
judgment is committed ; He sits on the throne of Divine 
glory, and judges both dead and living, and even fallen 
angels themselves. He will be the joy of the righteous ; 
it will be their high privilege to hold close communion 
with Him. In all that is said of the glory of the 

in our Lord's own days. See John xii. 34, and ix. 35 in some 
MSS. ; also Matt. xvi. 13. 
1 Chaps, xlviii., xlix. 


Messiah, He is plainly not conceived of as God ; His 
power is delegated ; He is a creature subordinated to 
Almighty God, joining in the universal worship offered 
to the Lord of all ; clothed indeed with highest attri- 
butes, but set at a distance from the supreme Lord. The 
writer indeed has assimilated the teaching of Daniel and 
the Prophets, but he is far from realising the doctrine of 
St. John. 1 

The eschatology of the book is somewhat confused, 
owing partly to the vagueness of the writer's own 
opinions, and partly to the variety of authorship. 
Speaking generally, we may say that the author antici- 
pated the immediate development of Messiah's kingdom. 
The one object of the production, so far as unity can be 
traced therein, is to assert the great truth that retribu- 
tion awaits transgression ; this is confirmed by the 
history of the past, and emphasises the announcement of 
the events of the later days which are matters of predic- 
tion. In one passage 2 we are told that the eighth week 
of the world's history shall be one of righteousness, when 
vengeance is executed upon sinners at the hands of the 
godly. At the end of this period occurs a time of 
happiness and prosperity ; the righteous shall inherit a 
new Jerusalem and erect a new temple. In the ninth 
and tenth weeks the everlasting judgment will take 
place, the present heaven and earth will vanish away, 
and be succeeded by a new heaven and a new earth, 
which shall exist eternally in goodness and righteousness. 

1 Chaps. 11, lv., Ixi., Ixix. 

2 Chap. xci. 12-17. The passage belongs properly to chap, xciii., 
and is inserted there by Dill maim. 


In other passages l referring to the same period there is 
no mention of this time of peace preceding the judg- 
ment; rather the Messianic reign is to be ushered in 
with war and calamity and desolation, and rest is not 
won till the evil angels and the wicked rulers are cast 
into the fiery abyss, and the Messiah, " the white steer," 
is born. There is no definite statement in this passage 
concerning the general resurrection as preceding the 
universal judgment. 2 But from other places we gather 
that in this matter a different mode awaits the wicked 
and the righteous. The spirits of the former shall be 
removed from Sheol, and sent into the place of torment, 8 
but the spirits of the righteous shall be united to their 
bodies, and live on the new earth, sharing the ineffable- 
blessings of Messiah's kingdom. 4 The resurrection of the 
body is a boon that belongs to the just alone, who were 
thus compensated for the evil times which they had 
passed while formerly in the flesh. The final judge is 
not Messiah, but God Himself, who shall descend from 
heaven to pass the sentence upon men and angels. 5 This 
view is common to all the apocalyptic literature of the 
period, so that our Lord's statement, "The Father 
judgeth no man, but hath given all judgment unto the 
Son," 6 was a novel idea to His hearers, even to those of 
them who had learned some portion of the truth con- 
cerning Christ's nature and attributes. 

1 E.g. chap. xc. 

2 A similar omission occurs in the description given in St. 
Mark xxv. 

3 Chaps, ciii. 8, cviii. 2-6. 

4 Chaps, li. 1, 2, Ixi. 5, xcii. 3, c. 5. 

5 Chaps, i. 3, 4, xxv. 3, c. 5. 6 John v. 22. 


Of the intermediate state the description is somewhat 
obscure. Enoch (chap, xxii.) is shown a place in the far 
west where the souls of the righteous dead are collected, 
different abodes being assigned to them according to a 
certain classification ; those who suffered wrong being 
separated from those who died from other causes. Near 
them is the locality where the spirits of sinners wait. 
Here also a division is made between those who had 
been punished on earth for their sins and those who 
hitherto had escaped retribution. These transgressors 
suffer pain in this abode, even as Dives in the parable 
speaks of ' being tormented in the flame. 1 Here they 
have to wait till the day of judgment, when their fate is 
decided for ever. But some highly favoured souls do not 
dwell in this western abode. They are taken to Paradise, 
which is the Garden of Eden in the north country, and 
whither Enoch himself was translated. This is their 
temporary home. 2 One sees here a trace of the dis- 
tinction between the destiny of the souls of the good 
and those of the highest saints, which is found in some 
mediaeval and in some Catholic theology ; and in accord- 
ance with which, while some rest in Hades or Paradise, 
others are raised to heaven at once and enjoy the beatific 

As regards angelology, in some parts of the work 
there is a somewhat strict classification of these heavenly 
beings. They are innumerable, but among them are 
distinguished seraphim, cherubim, and ophanim, angels 
of power and angels of lordship. The ophanim ("wheels ") 

1 Chap. ciii. 7, 8 ; Luke xvi. 23-25. 

2 Chap. Ix. 8, Ixi. 12, Ixx. 


are so named from the representation in Ezekiel i. and x. 
There is one called the Angel of Peace (chap. xl. 8) who 
seems to be the highest of all, and to have the direction 
of things in heaven and earth. The four archangels, 
Michael, Eaphael, Gabriel, and Phanuel, have separate 
functions assigned to them in connection with Messiah's 
kingdom. Michael leads the ceaseless praise of God ; 
Eaphael presides over the sick and suffering ; Gabriel is 
mighty to assist the oppressed ; Phanuel aids the re- 
pentant and those who hope for life eternal. 1 As regards 
evil spirits, these are sometimes supposed to be the fallen 
angels, whose transgression is continually coining in view ; 
sometimes the spirits of the giants born from their illicit 
connection with mortal women. Others are called Satans, 
and at their head is Satan himself, who is represented 
with his followers not only as leading men astray, but 
as the agent of God in inflicting punishment on sinners. 
In this view he is allowed, as in Job, to visit heaven 
and prefer accusations against men. Whence these 
Satans came, and whether they were originally good 
angels, Enoch reveals not ; but he denounces their fate 
in Messianic times, when they shall be cast into a 
blazing furnace and tormented eternally. 2 

The Book of Enoch shows its variety of authorship by 
the inequality of literary skill which is found in it. If 
some passages are of high eloquence, and redolent of 
piety and reverence and noble aspirations, others are 
characterised by wild speculation and empty bombast. 
But with all its faults and shortcomings, it is of great 

1 Chaps. Ixi. 10, Ixxi. 3, 7, 8, 13, xl. 1 ff., ix. 

2 Chaps, xv. 8, xl. 7, liii. 3, liv. 6. 


value as introducing us to the views and feelings of 
Jews, their hopes and convictions, at the period immedi- 
ately preceding the Christian era, and helping us to 
estimate the moral, religious, and political atmosphere 
in which Christ lived. Hence the work is to be re- 
garded, not as a mere literary curiosity, but as offering 
a substantial aid to the understanding of the most 
important period of the world's history. 


In the Epistle of St. Jude we read (ver. 9) : " Michael 
the archangel, when contending with the devil he dis- 
puted about the body of Moses, 1 durst not bring against 
him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." 
Hereupon two questions arise. Whence did the apostle 
derive the story to which he refers ? And what was 
the occasion of the dispute ? To the latter question a 
conjectural answer alone can be given. Taking into 
consideration the circumstances of the burial of Moses, 
we see that it was intended to be a secret transaction. 
The Lord, we are told (Deut. xxxiv. 6), " buried him in a 
valley of the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor ; 
but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day." 
Doubtless there was a good reason for this secrecy. The 
proneness of the Jews to idolatry, the likelihood that the 

1 An attempt has been made to read 'I>j<7oy instead of blui/asa;, and 
to refer the occurrence to Zech. iii. 2 ; but there is no authority 
whatever for such change of the text. 


body of their great leader might become an object of 
adoration, even as the brazen serpent drew their hearts 
away in later time, the tendency to follow the creature- 
worship and to pay that undue reverence to relics which 
they had seen in Egypt, these considerations may have 
led to the concealment of the body of Moses. And the 
devil- wished to frustrate this purpose. He saw an 
opportunity of using the mortal remains of Moses to 
draw away the Israelites from true religion. He would 
have no mystery about the burial. The people should 
be shown their leader's resting-place ; of the result he 
had no doubt whatever. And Michael, the appointed 
guard of the grave, as the Targuni says, resisted this 
evil attempt of Satan, and firmly carried out the purpose 
of God. Using the words which God Himself had 
employed when the wicked spirit endeavoured to with- 
stand His act of clothing Joshua, the high priest, in 
festal garments (Zech. iii.), Michael answered, " The Lord 
rebuke thee." And in the unknown spot the body 
rested ; or, at any rate, it was seen no more till it 
appeared to the wondering three on the Mount of Trans- 
figuration fourteen hundred years later. 

The former question, as to the origin of the narrative 
to which St. Jude refers, is answered by Origen, 1 who 

1 De Princ. iii. 2. 1 : " In Genesi serpens Evam seduxisse describi- 
tur, de quo in Adscensione Mosis, cujus libelli meminit in Epistola 
sua Apostolus Judas, ' Michael archangel us cum Diabolo disputans 
de corpore Mosis,' ait a Diabolo inspiratum serpentem causam 
exstitisse prsevaricationis Adse et Eva3." Opp. i. 138. The title of 
the work is given as Assumtio Moysis, sometimes as Ascensio or 
Receptio M., both being translations of the Greek dva'h-n-^/ig M., and 
this not in the sense of ascension of body and soul, as in the case of 
Christ, but with the meaning that while his body was buried his 


intimates that it is derived from a book which he calls 
the Ascension of Moses, * Ava^^is Mcoo-eoj?. That 
St. Jude should refer to a work current in his day, 
though not appertaining to the canon of Holy Scripture, 
is quite supposable, as there is good ground for believing 
that in another place (ver. 14) he cites the apocryphal 
Book of Enoch. The existence of this Assumption or 
Ascension of Moses is testified by many other early 
writers. In the remarkable use of the word fiecrlT^ in 
the Epistle to the Galatians (iii. 19) some have seen a 
reference to, or evidence of acquaintance with, our book. 
Certainly the term is applied to Moses in the first 
chapter, where the dying lawgiver says : " Itaque excogi- 
tavit et invenit me, qui ab initio orbis terrarum prse- 
paratus sum ut sim arbiter testamenti illius." Eeferring 
to this, and having the Greek original before him, Gelasius 
of Cyzicum 1 gives the latter words of Moses as elval fie 
7779 SiaOrjfcrjs avrov fjuecriTtiv. But we cannot lay much 
stress on the use of that expression, as it is employed in 
this connection by Philo 2 and the Eabbinical authors, 
and was probably applied to Moses by writers antecedent 
to Christianity in agreement with Deut. v. 5, where he 
says : " I stood between the Lord and you at that time, 
to show you the word of the Lord." It is also asserted 

soul was conveyed by angels to heaven. Moses himself in one 
passage (Assumt. x. 14) speaks of sleeping with his fathers, and in 
another dates an event from his reception ("a receptione mea," 
x. 12). More indefinitely it is termed " Secreta M." (Didym.), 
and fii fata &'xUpv$ot, M. (Const. Apost.). 

1 Comment. Act. Syn. Nic. ii. 18. (Mansi, Condi ii. p. 844.) The 
passage in Heb. ix. 15 is translated in Cod. Claromont.: "et ideo 
novi testamenti arbiter est," where the Vulgate has " mediator." 

2 Vit. Mos. iii. 19 : o7 ptaivr^ x.a.1 3/aXAaxT^. Vol. ii. p. 160 M. 



that Clemens Eomanus quotes our book when, speaking 
of Moses (xvii. 5), he says : " He, though greatly honoured, 
magnified not himself, but answered when the revelation 
was made to him at the bush, ' Who am I, that Thou 
sendest me ? I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.' 
And again he saith : ' I am as smoke from the pottery.' " 1 
The last clause is deemed by Hilgenfeld to be cited 
from the Assumption. This is possible, but the existing 
fragments do not contain it. The earliest reference 
which can be relied on is found in the works of Clemens 
Alexandrinus, 2 who, describing the death of Moses, says it 
is probable that Joshua saw Moses in twofold form when 
he was taken up (avaka^avo^vov), one with the angels, 
and one honoured with burial in the valley. This curious 
opinion is shared by Origen, 3 who asserts that in a certain 
uncanonical book mention is made of two Moses' being 
seen, one alive in the spirit, the other dead in the body. 
Evodius, 4 a contemporary of St. Augustine, has the same 
gloss, derived from the same source : " When he ascended 
the mountain to die, the power of his body brought it to 
pass, that there should be one body to commit to earth, 

1 'Eyci BS eiftt drph <*TO x,v6p*;. Lightfoot's references to Jas. 
iv. 14 and Hos. xiii. 3 are not satisfactory. 

2 Strom, vi. 15 (p. 806, Potter), cf. i. 23, 153. 

3 In Libr. Jesu Nave, Horn. ii. 1 : " Denique et in libello quodam, 
licet in canone non habeatur, mysterii tarnen hujus figura describitur. 
Refertur enim quia duo Moses videbantur, unus vivus in spiritu, 
alius mortuus in corpore." 

4 Augustin. Ep. 158 (ii. p. 426, Ben.) : " Quamquam et in apocry- 
phis et in secretis ipsius Moysi, quae scriptura caret auctoritate, tune 
cum ascenderet in montern ut moreretur, vi corporis efficitur ut 
aliud esset quod terrae mandaretur, aliud quod angelo comitanti 


and another to be the companion of his attendant angel." 
Another legend, traced to the same origin, 1 recounts how 
at Moses' death a bright cloud so dazzled the eyes of the 
bystanders that they saw neither when he died nor where 
he was buried. Other writers give a different reason for 
the dispute with Michael from that suggested above, 
still, however, referring to the tradition contained in the 
Assumption. Thus (Ecumenius 2 writes, that the arch- 
angel took charge of Moses' body, but the devil claimed it 
as his own, being the body of a murderer in that he had 
killed the Egyptian ; and an old Scholion 3 on the passage 
in St. Jude adds : " that it was when Satan asserted this 
claim and blasphemed, Michael replied, ' The Lord rebuke 
thee.' " Epiphanius 4 gathers from this book how the 
angels buried the body of Moses without washing it, for 
they had no need to wash it ; nor were they defiled by 
contact with so holy and pure a body. Didymus of 
Alexandria, 5 who lived in the fourth century A.D., informs 
us that some persons in his day raised an objection 
against the Epistle of St. Jude, as also against the 
Assumption of Moses, on account of the passage con- 
cerning the dispute with Satan ; just as, according to 
Jerome, 6 the same Epistle was rejected for its reference 
to the apocryphal Book of Enoch. Mention is made of 

1 Caten. in Pent. ap. Fabric. Cod. Pseud, ep. V. T. ii. p. 121. 

2 In Ep. Jud. p. 340. 

3 Caten. in Ep. Cath. ed. Cramer, Oxon. 1840. 

4 Hceres. ix. p. 28. 

5 In Ep. Jud. enarrat. (vi. p. 326, Galland. B. Patr.): "Licet 
adversarii hujus contemplationis prsescribunt praesenti epistolee et 
Moyseos Assuintioni propter eum locum ubi significatur verbum 
archangel! de corpore Moysis ad angelum (al. diabolum) factum." 

6 Catal. Script. Ecclesiast. 


the Assumption in some catalogues of the books of 
Scripture. Thus in the Catalogue of Nicephorus it is 
placed, with the Book of Enoch, the Testaments of the 
Patriarchs, and some others, among the Apocrypha of 
the Old Testament ; and reference is made to it in the 
so-called Synopsis of Athanasius. Apollinaris l says : 
" It is to be noted that in the times of Moses there were 
also other books, which are now apocryphal, as evident 
from the Epistle of St. Jude, where he teaches about the 
body of Moses, and where he cites as from ancient 
Scripture the passage, ' Behold, the Lord corneth,' " etc. 
In the Acts of the Second Nicene Council 2 some passages 
are cited from the Analepsis which are not now extant. 
Thus we read that in the dispute with Satan, Michael 
said : " Of His Holy Spirit we all were formed ; " and 
again : " From the face of God went forth His Spirit, 
and the world was made." Another fragment of the 
same Acts 3 already mentioned gives the chief contents 
of the work : " Moses the prophet, when he was about 
to depart from life, as it is written in the Book of the 
Assumption of Moses, called Joshua unto him, and 
spake, saying : ' God looked upon me before the founda- 

1 Niceph. Catena, i. 1313, Lips. 1772. 

2 Comm. Act. Cone. Nic. ii. 20: l fiifihu' ' Av"hvi\]/&u$ Maatus M/^aojA 
o otp^tx.'yyt'^os ^td'hiyof^evo; r<u S/at/S&Aw Tvlyg;' UTTO yoip "TrvevftotTo; dyiov 

CtVTOV TTOtVTlg iX,Tia&Yl/^SV. XOtl 'Ktt.'hlV "hkytC d'TTO TTpOOUTTOV TOV 0t> 

ifjjjAtfg TO Kvwpcx, ctvTw, Koil 6 x,6fffto$ lyiviTo. To this the philosopher 
answers : TLepi Be TVJ$ fafalffyf ' Avothy\}/s&j$ ^lava&a^ vcepi q$ ccpria; 
tlpvjy.oLTt) ov^s oix.vix.Qix, ITOTS tl fty HI>V) odsv a,lru vficig actQsaTtpotv ftoi ruv 
"hsx&ivra'j TT a. p XGT '/JG oti TV)V avarotaiv. Mansi, Condi, ii. 857. These and 
other passages from ancient writers are cited by Volkmar, Hilgenfeld, 
and Fritzsche in their editions of the book. 

3 C. xviii. p. 28. 


tion of the world, that I should be the mediator of His 
covenant.' " The Apostolical Constitutions mention among 
those writings that are without the canon "The apocryphal 
Books of Moses," 1 referring doubtless to our work. It 
seems also certain that it was well known to the Kab- 
binical writers, who raised a crop of legends on its 
foundation. 2 

Thus we see that the Assumption of Moses was a book 
known and quoted up to the twelfth or thirteenth century 
of our era. But from that time till some twenty years 
ago it has been wholly lost. Commentators on St. Jude 
were forced to content themselves with a vague reference 
to this unknown composition ; and the words of Dean 
Stanley in Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible (art. 
"Moses"), written in 1863, accurately represent the 
amount of acquaintance with the subject possessed by 
most people. Speaking of the passage in Jude, he con- 
cludes thus : " It probably refers to a lost apocryphal 
book mentioned by Origen, the Ascension or Assumption 
of Moses. All that is known of this book is given 
by Fabricius, Codex Pseudep. V. T. i. 838-844." The 
fragments, however, printed by Fabricius are very in- 
significant, and quite insufficient to give any idea of the 
character and contents of the work. But Dr. Stanley 
was unconsciously inaccurate when he made the state- 
ment just mentioned. Already in 1861 A. M. Ceriani, 
the learned librarian of the Ambrosian Library at Milan, 
had published a Latin version of a large portion of the 
Assumption which he had found in a palimpsest of the 

2 Volkmar, Mose Prophetic u. Himmelfahrt, p. 10. 


sixth century. 1 It is curious that nearly forty years 
previously Amedeus Peyron had edited from the same 
manuscript some hitherto unknown orations of Cicero, 2 
but the " Assumption " remained still undiscovered. It 
was therefore with the utmost satisfaction that the 
learned world received the news that fresh fragments of 
this apocryphal work had been suddenly disinterred. 
The MS., indeed, was without title, corrupt and imper- 
fect, and in places illegible ; but these circumstances only 
augmented the interest which was centred upon it. 
Here was a nodus which demanded solution at the hands 
of scholars. " Liber enim," as Erasmus says, 3 " prodigiosis 
mendis undique scatens, crux est verius quam liber." 
That it was the same book as the old Analepsis Mos. was 
proved by its containing the passage in the Acts of the 
Nicene Council quoted above. The discovery appears to 
have passed almost unnoticed in England, but in Germany 
it stirred the minds of savants with an excitement as 
great as that lately aroused by the " Teaching of the 
Twelve Apostles." Professors set themselves the task of 
correcting, explaining, and supplying the gaps in the 
very imperfect publication of Ceriani. Eirst Hilgenfeld, 
with the aid of other scholars, put forth a critical edition 4 
containing a corrected text, which threw much light on 
the many dark places, and afforded a readable whole. A 
year or two later he took the pains to translate the Latin 

1 Monumenta /Sacra, torn. I. Fasc. i., Mediol. 1861. 

2 Ciceronis Orationes, Stutg. et Tubing. 1824. 

3 Ep. 1203, vol. iii. p. 1420. 

4 In his Novum Testamentum extra Canon., Lips. 1866. After- 
wards in Messias Judceorunij Lips. 1869 ; and in his Zeitschr. for 
1868, etc. 


into Greek, no very difficult task, as the version had been 
most slavishly rendered from the original, retaining 
.everywhere Greek phraseology and often Greek words. 
This he published with valuable notes. Then Volkmar 1 
printed a neat little edition with a German translation 
and commentary. This was followed by that of Schmidt 
and Merx, 2 whose conjectures and corrections are remark- 
able rather for audacity than probability. Fritzsche, 3 the 
last editor, speaks somewhat slightingly of his predecessors' 
labours, but has largely availed himself of them. In his 
very useful edition he prints on one page the text as 
originally published by Ceriani, and on the opposite side 
gives an amended text with the lacunas mostly supplied, 
and with copious critical notes. The work has never, I 
believe, been published in England. A useful dissertation 
on the book, which combines the latest information, is 
appended to Dr. Gloag's Introduction to the Catholic Epistles. 
There is another work which is sometimes confounded 
with the Assumption, but is entirely different in scope 
and treatment. This is an Apocalypse of Moses in 
Greek, written by a Christian, and belonging to the class 
of Adamaic books, wherein is given a history of Adam's 
life and death as revealed to Moses. It has been pub- 
lished by Tischendorf and Ceriani. 

1 Handbuch d. Einl. in d. Apokr. vol. iii., and separately under the 
title of Mose Prophetie und Himmelfahrt, Leipz. 1867. 

2 Archiv.fiir wissensch. Erforsch. des A. T., Halle 1868. 

3 Libri Apocryph. Vet. Test, Lips. 1871. He says in his preface : 
"Arduum sane et magni erat negotii hunc libellum mirum quantum 
corruptum emendare ; i'eci tamen quod potui. Omnia virorum 
doctorum consilia, vel etiam commenta et opinionum monstra referre 
nihil attinuit." P. xxxiv. 


Whether the Assumption was originally written in 
Hebrew cannot now be determined. 1 If its birthplace 
was Palestine, it is most probable that it was composed 
in Hebrew or Aramaic. It is evident that it was known 
only in a Greek form to those early writers who mention 
it ; and it is also certain from internal evidence that the 
old Latin version which has survived was made from the 
Greek and not the Hebrew. The use of such words as 
" prophetise," " scene testimonii," " allophyli," proves this 
incontestably. The Latin of the translation is beyond 
measure barbarous and anomalous, the vulgar dialect of 
country peasants, and resembling the old Itala rather 
than any classical form which we possess. It appears, 
too, to have been transcribed by an ignorant writer, who 
has accordingly introduced many blunders of his own 
manufacture. As the MS. came originally from the 
Abbey of Bobbio, near Pavia, whence also issued the 
famous Muratorian Canon (the language of which is very 
similar to that of the Assumption), it was probably copied 
by one of the inmates of that establishment, " stronger," 
as Colani says, "in caligraphy than Latin." Of the 
place and date of the original composition we can form 
only conjectures. We might do more if we had the 
whole before us ; but, unfortunately, both the beginning 
and the end are missing. At the commencement 
probably only a few lines are lost, but at the conclusion 
a very serious deficiency is to be lamented. Mcephorus 

1 Merx, Schmidt, and Colani assert strongly that the work was 
written originally in Aramaic, which they think will account for 
most of the obscurities of the Latin text. See Revue de Thtfologie, 3e. 
ser. vol. vi. p. 68. 


states that the original work consisted of 1400 stiches, 
assigning similar dimensions to the Book of Revelation. 
We are thus led to the conclusion that little more than 
half has been preserved, and important passages, wherein 
some guide to the chronology would naturally have been 
introduced, are lost or mutilated beyond hope of replace- 
ment. Our data, therefore, are much limited, and we 
possess but scanty foundations on which to construct a 
theory. With regard to the locality of the treatise, we 
may at once exclude Alexandria from being its birth- 
place. The author shows no trace of the Alexandrian 
school ; he never allegorizes, never indulges in mystic 
speculations, but keeps to pure history, whether he is 
relating the past or predicting the future. His stand- 
point is unadulterated Judaism, and there is good reason, 
as will be seen, for classing him among the Zealots. 
Hilgenfeld considers that the author was a Jew 
sojourning at Eome ; but his arguments are very far from 
decisive, and we shall have most critics with us in 
determining that the work was written in Palestine. The 
author shows such accurate acquaintance with the parties 
of the Jews in Palestine, and the events which happened 
there, that it can scarcely be doubted that he is writing 
amid the scenes and characters which, under the disguise 
of prophecy, he depicts, either in Galilee or in the 
country east of Jordan, where the party of Zealots 
was strongest. As to the date of the composition, 
scholars have long had important differences, Wieseler 
fixing it at 2 B.C., and Volkmar at 1 3 5-1 3 8 A.D. Between 
these two extreme dates many variations occur ; thus 
Ewald assigns it to A.D. 6, Hilgenfeld to A.D. 44, Merx to 


A.D. 54-64. Fritzsche traces it to the sixth decade of 
the first century A.D., and Langen (mistaking the applica- 
tion of chap, viii.) assigns it to a period shortly after the 
destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Most of these critics 
found their opinions upon the unintelligible fragments of 
numbers in chap. vii. But it is absurd to employ the 
hopelessly mutilated text for this purpose ; and, in truth, 
we can only be certain of these facts, that the book was 
written before the destruction of Jerusalem, of which no 
mention is made, and before the death of Herod's two 
sous, Philip and Antipas, probably towards the commence- 
ment of their reign ; for the author predicts for the sons 
a shorter reign than their father's, which could be said 
truly of Archelaus alone, for Antipas reigned 43 years, 
Philip 37, and Herod the Great only 34 years. 1 The 
concluding clauses of chap, vi., which speak of the 
arrival of a powerful western chieftain who should take 
captives, and burn the house, and crucify some, point to 
the war of Varus, B.C. 4 ; 2 and when the writer goes on 
(chap, vii.) : " ex quo facto finientur tempora," it is 
natural to conclude that he wrote after this little war. 
If we knew accurately the date of St. Jude's Epistle, we 
might have another criterion ; but too much stress must 
not be laid upon the supposed quotation from the 
Assumption, as the passage referred to is not extant, and 
both Jude and pseudo - Moses may have used some 

1 Archelaus reigned only nine years, and was then banished by 
Augustus. The passage of the MS. above referred to is the follow- 
ing : " et . . . roducit natos . . . ecedentes sibi breviora tempora 
donarent." As treated by Fritzsche the passage reads : " et producet 
natos, qui succedentes sibi breviora tempora dominarent." 

2 Josephus, Antiq. xvii. 10. 


tradition current among the Jews of the period. 1 On 
the whole, we shall not be far wrong if we attribute the 
composition to the early part of the first Christian 
century, i.e. between A.D. 6, the time of the banishment 
of Archelaus, and A.D. 33, the date of Philip's death. 2 
Before offering a sketch of the contents of the little 
work, I will transcribe a few lines of the manuscript 
with a view of showing its corruptions, and the difficulties 
that stand in the way of interpreters. I should premise 
that the MS. is a palimpsest of the fifth or sixth century, 
written in two columns to the page, each line containing 
from twelve to eighteen letters without division of words, 
and with very rare punctuation. The following is the 
commencement of the existing fragment : " . . . qui est 
bis millesimus et quingentesimus annus a creatura orbis 
terrae nam secus qui in oriente sunt numerus . . . mus et 
. . . mus profectionis fynicis cum exivit plebs post profec- 
tionem quse fiebat per moysen usque amman trans iordanem 
profetice quse facta est a moysen in libro deuteronomio." 
This passage is thus manipulated by the latest editors : 
" [Anno Moyseos centesimo et vigesimo] qui est bis mille- 
simus et quingentesimus annus a creatura orbis terrse, nam 
secus [= secundum eos] qui in oriente sunt numerus est 
cccc mus et vii mus et xxx mus profectionis Phcenices, 3 

1 Some German writers have assigned a very late date to our book, 
and then have used this assumption as an argument for attributing 
the Epistle of St. Jude to post-apostolic times. See Volkmar, Mose 
Prophetic und Himmelfahrt. 

2 See Wieseler's article in Jahrh. fur deutsche Tlieol. xiii. 622 ff., 
1868. Of the contents of this article I have gladly made some use 
in my paper. See also Schiirer, p. 79. 

3 A great controversy has been raised over the words " profectionis 
fynicis." The latter word is explained by the best commentators to 


cum exivit plebs post profectionem quse fiebat per 
Moysen usque Amman trans Jordanem, profetise factae 
sunt a Moyse in libro Deuteronomio." It would lead us 
too far were we to attempt to solve the many questions 
which are raised by this brief extract ; rather let us 
confine ourselves to an endeavour to obtain a general 
view of the contents and object of the work. 

The work, as we have it now, is divided into two 
parts first, the charge of Moses to Joshua his successor, 
in which is given a sketch of Jewish history, mingled 
with prophecies of future events up to the restoration of 
the pure theocracy. This is followed by a humble, self- 
depreciating speech of Joshua, to which Moses makes an 
encouraging reply, broken off short by the mutilation of 
the manuscript, which ends thus : " exivit enim deus 
qui praevidit omnia in srecula, et stabilitum est testa- 
mentum illius et jurejurando, quod " . . . The remainder, 
which gave its name to the work, doubtless contained 
the account of the death and burial of Moses, and the 
dispute about the body to which St. Jude refers ; but 
this will probably now be never brought to light. 

be the Greek (poti/Uns \ but they differ in its interpretation, some 
contending that " the journey of Phoenicia " means the migration of 
Canaan, i.e. the Israelites into Egypt ; others, with more reason, 
affirming that it signifies "the journey into Phoenicia," i.e. the 
removal of Abraham to Canaan. Certainly Canaan is so called by 
Eusebius (Prcep. Ev. ix. 17. 2) : TOVTOV d; roe. TrpoaTotypoiTcx, rov Qeoij 
el$ QwiKw ihdot/Tct. Others, again, think that the fabulous bird 
Phoenix is meant, which is said to have reappeared A.D. 34, and 
to whose reappearance Moses' death and revival are compared. 
Wieseler makes this into an argument for attributing to our book a 
locality on the east of Jordan, as the Arabians used the Phoenix- 
period in their computation of dates. 


It will, perhaps, be most satisfactory to give a free 
translation of part of Moses' speech, adding such remarks 
as seem to be necessary for its elucidation, or to show its 
bearing on the Messianic doctrine. 1 We must keep in 
mind the fact (for a fact it seems to be) that the book is 
written by a partisan of a section of the Zealots, whose 
standpoint was that no mortal man ought to rule Israel, 
be he priest or king, of the line of Aaron or of David, 
that Jehovah alone is King. This tenet, coupled with 
an energetic and fanatical zeal for the law, led to the 
outburst of Judas of Galilee, and to the excesses of the 
sect in later times. We shall see this ruling dogma 
continually appearing in the Assumption. The author 
at the same time seems to be inimical to the Pharisees, 
as being too dogmatical in their religion and undecided 
in their politics. 

This, then, is the last charge of the great lawgiver : 
" The Lord prepared me before the foundation of the 
world to be the mediator of His covenant. And now 
that I am about to be gathered to my fathers, I commit 
to thee this writing, which thou shalt preserve safely 2 
unto the day of visitation." This prophecy of Moses 
was to be kept in the holy place till the last time of 
judgment. " And now thou shalt lead the people into 
the land promised to their fathers, and shalt settle them 
there. And it shall come to pass that after they have 
been in possession for five 3 years, they shall be governed 

1 I use generally Fritzsche's amended text as the most probable 
and most available form. 

2 " Quos ordinabis et chedriabis " i.e. x.tbf>oms t " shalt smear with 
oil of cedar." So xslpovv is used by Diod. Sic. v. 29. 

3 The MS. has a blank where the number ought to be ; " V." is 


by princes and tyrants l eighteen years ; and ten tribes 
shall revolt for nineteen years." The eighteen years 
represent eighteen rulers, as in the Book of Enoch, viz. 
fifteen judges (" principes ") from Joshua to Samuel, and 
three kings (" tyranni "), Saul, David, and Solomon ; the 
" nineteen " are the kings of Israel from Jeroboam to 
Hoshea. " But two tribes shall come and remove the 
tabernacle of testimony ; and God shall make a resting- 
place for His sanctuary among them (2 Sam. vi. ; 1 Kings 
viii. 4). And they shall offer victims for twenty years." 
This refers to the reign of the twenty kings of Judah, 
including Athaliah. " And seven shall fortify the walls, 
and nine will I watch over, and they shall maintain the 
covenant of the Lord." Seven kings improved the condi- 
tion of the people, viz. Rehoboam, Abia, Asa, Jehoshaphat, 
Joram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah ; and nine God defended, 
viz. Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, 
Manasseh, Amon, Josiah. " But the last four kings shall 
worship false gods, and defile the temple with their 
idolatries. And then from the East shall come a mighty 
king (Nebuchadnezzar) who shall destroy the city, and 
burn the sanctuary, and take their precious things, and 
carry all the people and the two tribes into captivity. 
Then the two tribes shall call the ten to repentance, 
acknowledging the justice of their punishment ; and all 
together shall invoke the God of their fathers, and 
humbly confess that that chastisement which Moses 

supplied from Josh. xiv. 10, and Joseph. Antiq. v. 1. 19. "Wieseler 
thinks that the date 2500 A.M. was here repeated. 

1 " Principibus et tyrannis." In calling them " tyranni " rather 
than " reges," the seer means to convey his disapproval of this 
invasion of the pure theocracy. 


predicted has righteously fallen upon them. At the end 
of seven and seventy years one of their princes shall 
pray for them." This refers to the intercession of 
Daniel ; the seventy years of exile are extended by seven 
according to the Jewish predilection for that number, 
traces of which we see in Matt, xviii. 22, and in the 
genealogy of our Lord in St. Luke. "And God shall 
look upon them, and put it into the heart of the prince 
(Cyrus) to restore them unto their own country. Some 
portions of the tribes shall return to their appointed 
place and rebuild the city walls ; but the two tribes 
alone shall remain true to the Lord, yet lamenting that 
they are now unable to offer acceptable sacrifices." The 
notion of the writer is, that the temple having been 
restored under heathen auspices, and the officiating 
priests being friendly to the pagan supremacy, the 
services therein were illegitimate and inefficacious. 1 As 
for the ten, they shall thrive in the foreign land, and 
shall some day rejoin the others in the day of restora- 
tion. 2 And now the times of trial shall draw near, 3 
and vengeance shall arise because of the wickedness of 
princes given for their punishment ; for ministers who 
are not priests, but slaves and born of slaves, shall defile 

1 A similar notion is found in the Book of Enoch, chap. Ixxxix. 73, 
where it is said, in reference to the same period, that " all the bread 
offered on the table was impure and denied." 

2 This is one of the many difficult passages in the work. The 
MS. gives " et x tribus crescent et devenient apud natos in tempore 
tribum." " Tribum " plainly ought to be " tribuum ; " " apud natos " 
is = " ad natos, posteros ; " and " the time of the tribes " must mean 
the era of the restoration of Israel. Very different explanations are 
offered by commentators ; the above is substantially that of Fritzsche. 

3 " Adpropiabunt tempora arguendi." 


the altar ; 1 and those who are their doctors of the law 
shall pervert justice and fill the land with iniquity." 2 
The writer makes no definite reference to the persecution 
of Antiochus or the gallant struggles of the Maccabees, 
but hurries at once to the later time of the decadence 
of that great family and the consequent corruption of 
religion and morals. The scribes and Eabbis of the 
Asmonaeans were doubtless Sadducees, to which party 
John Hyrcanus had attached himself (Joseph. Antig. 
xiii. 10. 6). 

In the view of the seer, which, as I have said, is that 
of the sect of Zealots, the holy people were to be governed 
by no earthly king, not even by a prince of Jewish birth. 
Jehovah alone is their Euler. From this standpoint he 
regards the rule of the Asmonaean princes as usurping 
the authority of the Lord. He proceeds : " Soon shall 

1 The seer seems here to acknowledge the legitimacy of the worship 
of the second temple, which he before denied. This is, doubtless, 
because he considers the Jews as independent under the Maccabees. 
But this worship was marred by its ministers. "Non sacerdotes, 
sed servi de servis nati." Thus John Hyrcanus was taunted by the 
Pharisee Eleazar with being the son of a captive woman, and there- 
fore disqualified for the priesthood (Joseph. Antiq. xiii. 10. 5). 

2 MS. : " Et ideo implebitur coloriia et fines habitationis eorum 
sceleribus." By " colonia," which is frequently used in the book, is 
probably meant Jerusalem, as though regarded as a settlement among 
the heathen Jebusites, pseudo-Moses taking Joshua's point of view. 
See Josh. xv. 63; Judg. i. 8, 21. The MS. proceeds: "a domino 
qui faciunt erunt impii judices inerunt in campo judicare quoinodo 
quisquae uolet." The scribe himself has attempted to correct this 
unintelligible passage, but without success. Fritzsche reads : " a 
Domino qui deficiunt erunt impii judices, et erunt in campo judicare 
quomodo quisque volet." Wieseler : " a deo qui faciunt (those who 
are on God's side, the Pharisees), erunt impii judices in ea (colonia), 
a domino qui faciunt (the king's party, the Sadducees), erunt impii 
judices, hi erunt in campo, judicare, quomodo quisque volet." 


ruling kings arise, 1 calling themselves priests of the 
Most High God, and shall profane even the Holy of 
Holies. To them shall succeed an insolent king, not of 
the family of priests, a man rash and shameless, and 
he shall judge them as they are worthy. He shall slay 
their chieftains with the sword, and strangle them in 
secret places, 2 so that their bodies shall not be found ; 
he shall kill old and young, and spare not ; there will be 
great dread of him throughout the land, and his tyranny 
shall continue for four and thirty years." This is a fine 
and true description of Herod the Great, and the 
notorious cruelties practised in his reign. The mistake 
concerning the length of the reigns of Herod's sons has 
been already noticed. " He shall beget sons, who shall 
reign a shorter time than their father; until a mighty 
king of the West shall come, and shall utterly defeat the 
people, lead some away into captivity, crucify others 
around the city, and burn part of the temple." The 
mention of the partial destruction of the temple by fire 
forbids us to see here an allusion to the final conquest of 
Titus, and compels us to look to another event for an 
explanation of the prophecy. That event is doubtless 
the defeat of the Jews by Varus, when, as Joseph us 
narrates, 3 the porticoes or cloisters of the temple were 

1 "Tune exurgent illis reges imperantes." This was a grievous 
reproach in the eyes of a Zealot. 

2 The MS. has the unintelligible words : " Et locis ignotis singuli 
et corpora illorum ut nemo sciat ubi sint corpora illorum." For 
" singuli et," Fritzsche proposes " strangulabit ; " Hilgenfeld 
" sepeliet." Of. Joseph. Antiq. xv. 10 : " And many, carried off either 
openly or secretly into the castle, Hyrcania, were put to death." 

a Bell. Jud. ii. 3. 1 ff. ; Antiq. xvii. 10. 1 ff. ; ibid. 10. 



burnt, the sacred treasures plundered, and two thousand 
of the insurrectionists were ruthlessly crucified. 

Up to this point the history has been tolerably clear ; 
but now (chap, vii.) comes a passage which is most 
obscure, and has given rise to many interpretations and 
great controversies. 1 The seer is evidently speaking 
with studied ambiguity, and as we do not know what he 
means by " the last times," nor by what intervals he 
divides them, it is impossible to arrive at any sure 
solution of the enigma here presented. He seems to 
have regarded the victory of Yarus as a token of the 
subjection of Israel to the heathen yoke and the virtual 

1 As some readers may like to exercise their ingenuity upon this 
crucial passage, I give it as it stands in the MS., premising that the 
italics represent the probable letters, now too faint to be deciphered 
for certainty : " Ex quo facto finientur tempora momento . . . etur 
cursus a . . . horse 'iiir ueniant coguntur seciw ... ae ... pos 
. . . initiis tribus ad exitus *vim propter initiuin tres septimse 
secunda tria in tertia duse h . . . ra . . . tee." The various attempts 
to rectify the grammar and to supply the lacunce in this paragraph 
may be seen in Fritzsche's note. He himself leaves it as hopeless. 
The following is Wieseler's version : " Ex quo facto finientur tempora, 
momento finietur cursus annorum. Horse iiii venient ; cogentur 
seculi septimse (dirse ?) postumse in initiis tribus ad exitus viiii ; 
propter initiuin tres septimse, secunda trias, in tertia duse horse 
peractse." " Then shall press on the nine last fearful weeks (year- 
weeks, as in Dan. ix. 24) of the age with three beginnings unto the 
end ; next to the beginning (the subjugation of Judea by Pompey) 
are three weeks, a second triad (of year- weeks), in the third triad 
are two hours accomplished." Pompey took Jerusalem A.U.C. 691 ; 
the nine weeks, or 63 years, at the close of which the age shall come 
to an end, coincide with A.U.C. 754, which is a little after the time 
of the war of Varus. The insurrection of Judas, which the Jews 
dignified with this name, occurred A.U.C. 750, the date of our 
Saviour's birth. An explanation of this mysterious chronology may 
be seen in Wieseler's article ; but it is all guess-work, and more 
curious than profitable. 


overthrow of the theocracy. " Ex quo facto finientur 
ternpora." " When this shall come to pass the times 
shall end. In a moment the course of years shall end, 
when the four hours come." The " four hours " may 
possibly be the "time, times and a half" of Dan. xii. 7, 
and the following paragraph probably defines more 
exactly the various stages of the epoch which culminated 
in the erection of the supremacy of Eome. More than 
this we are unable to affirm. Next we have a descrip- 
tion of the Herodian princes under Eoman rule, and 
the parties then prevalent : " among them shall reign 
pestilent and godless men, boasting themselves to be 
just, 1 zealous indeed, but crafty, self-pleasers, hypocrites. 
These are gluttonous and wine-bibbers ; they devour the 
substance of the poor, saying that they do it for pity's 
sake ; their language is : Let us eat and drink luxuri- 
ously as princes. Their hands work iniquity, and their 
tongue speaketh proud things : Touch me not lest thou 
defile me." f ' One cannot help seeing here a reference to 
the Herodians, and, in the latter part, to "the scribes 
and Pharisees, hypocrites," who were so sternly de- 

1 MS. : "docentes (? dicentes) se esse justos." Some commentators 
see here a reference to the Sadducees and a play on their name, 
Tsedhukim, the Kighteous, as they are called in the Mishna. 

2 Comp. Mark vii. 1 ff. It is noteworthy that a contemporary of 
our Lord uses very similar terms to those which He employed in 
censuring these professors of religion. The clause above : " They 
devour the substance of the poor," etc., is in the MS. : " . . . rum 
bonorum com e stores dicentes se hcec facere propter misericordiam." 
Editors make . . . rum stand for " pauperum ; " it might equally 
well represent " viduarum," and then the likeness to the clause in 
Matt, xxiii. 14 would be very remarkable. In both passages the 
hypocrites are represented as teaching people to spend their sub- 
stance upon them as putting it to a holy use. 


nounced by our Lord in St. Matt, xxiii. The first 
portion of the description applies closely to the Sad- 
ducaic faction in Herod's half-pagan court, which really 
affected the doctrine of the Epicureans. Then falls 
upon them the punishment of their iniquity : " Lo, then 
shall come on them a wrath and a vengeance such as 
never before were seen. A mighty power shall be 
roused against them ; those who confess circumcision 
shall be crucified, and they who deny it shall be tortured 
and imprisoned ; their wives shall be given over to the 
heathen, and their children shall be made uncircumcised. 
Under pain of fire and sword they shall be compelled to 
carry the idols of their masters, 1 to offer on their altars, 
and to blaspheme the great name of God." The perse- 
cution here foreshadowed recalls, and is meant to recall, 
that under Antiochus Epiphanes. 2 Is there any parallel 
to be found within the limits of the period to which we 
attribute the composition of the Assumption ? Colani 3 
boldly says there is not, and affirms that the only perse- 
cution which answers to the one mentioned in the text, 
is that which took place under Adrian as a punishment 
for the rebellion of Bar-Cocheba, A.D. 136. But for an 
author, writing the history of the Jews (be it in a pre- 
dictive form), to omit all mention of the destruction 
of Jerusalem under Titus, and to leap at once to the 
calamities which were consummated by the erection of 
^Elia Capitolina, is a proceeding so very improbable, that 

1 "Cogentur palam bajulare iclola eorum inquinata." Comp. Bar. 
vi. 4. 86, 

2 Comp. 1 Mace. i. 22 if., 43 ff. 

8 Revue de Theol. p. 75. See also Volkmar, pp. 58 ff. 


we cannot admit it for a moment. The other alternative 
(if it be granted Adrian's persecution is meant) would be 
to endow Pseudo-Moses with the true spirit of prophecy, 
or at least to allow that he has made a most happy 
guess at the future which subsequent events fully justi- 
fied. Of course, Colani and those who hold his opinion 
would say that the book was written after A.D. 136 ; 
but I have already given reasons for assigning it to a 
much earlier date, nor does this part of the " prophecy " 
alter this decision. Evidently the writer wished to 
announce in striking terms the chastisement which he 
saw coming upon his nation from heathen Borne. How 
could he better herald this than by recalling to mind the 
awful cruelties of Epiphanes, and using his acts as a 
type of the hostility of godless tyrants assailing the 
fallen Israel ? What those cruelties were, and how in 
many particulars they answered to the description in our 
text, may be seen in the beginning of the First Book of 
Maccabees. That, as a fact, the atrocities of earlier days 
were repeated in after years, is only what might have 
been expected. Given similar victims, similar circum- 
stances, similar perpetrators, the result was sure to be 
analogous also. Here, as elsewhere, history repeats 
itself, and we need seek no closer fulfilment of the 
prediction. By speaking, in the following paragraph, 
of " a second vengeance," the writer seems to desire to 
call to remembrance the persecution of Antiochus. 

We now come to the great crux of the whole book 
(chap, ix.), at a satisfactory solution of which no com- 
mentator has yet arrived. <: In that day, at his com- 
mand (illo dicente) a man shall arise from the tribe of 


Levi, whose name shall be Taxo. And he shall call his 
seven sons unto him, and thus address them : ' Behold, 
my sons, a second time has vengeance fallen upon this 
people, a cruel, foul punishment, and pitiless captivity. 
What nation or people has suffered for their iniquities as 
we have suffered? Ye see and know that we have 
never tempted God, 1 neither our fathers nor ancestors, so 
as to transgress His commandments. And herein lies 
our strength. Let us then do this : let us fast for three 
days ; and on the fourth day let us go into a cave which 
is in the field, and rather die than break the command- 
ments of our God. For if we do this and die, the Lord 
will avenge our blood.' " Now the question is, who is 
meant by " Taxo ? " Is it a real name ? Are we to take 
it as representing a certain numerical value, as the beast 
in the Eevelation of St. John ? And if so, is the name 
Greek, Latin, or Hebrew ? Or is it a cypher, containing 
the same number of letters as the name intended ? Into 
these and such like questions editors have entered at 
great length, with this conclusion, according to Fritzsche, 
with which I am forced to agree : " ut nemo adhuc 
inventus est, qui nomen satis probabiliter enuclearet, ita 
de ejus explicatione videtur desperandum." Among the 
various theories offered, that of Wieseler 2 seems in some 
respects reasonable. In his view the seer is again intro- 
ducing details from Maccabaean history, such as occur in 
1 Mace. ii. 29 ff. and 2 Mace. vi. 11 ff, or from the 

1 The MS. gives : " quia nunquam temptans deum nee patres," 
etc. Fritzsche corrects, " temptavimus ; " Volkmar, temptantes ; " 
Colani retains " temptans," referring, according to his interpretation, 
to Kabbi Jehouda-ben-Baba. 

2 Jahrb. 1868, p. 629. 


deeds of that Matthias who was the ringleader in the 
disturbances which took place on the rumour of the 
death of Herod, and who, according to Josephus (Antiq. 
xvii. 6 ; Bell. Jud. i. 33), made much the same speech 
as Taxo, before pulling down the Roman eagle on the 
temple gate, urging his followers to sacrifice their lives 
in defence of the honour of God. As for the word 
" Taxo," it is probably the Low-Latin word meaning 
" a badger," equivalent to the Hebrew ^nn, tachash, 
which is very similar to the German " Dachs," and has 
the same meaning ; and it may be either a play on the 
badger skin which formed part of the covering of the 
tabernacle, or the appellation of the man who had to act 
the part of this animal by hiding in dens of the earth. 1 
This man may be either Judas of Galilee, or some chief 
among the party of the Zealots, possibly the writer 
himself. Now the principal fact that militates against 
Taxo being Judas is the character of Judas himself. 
Though his followers saw in him the promised Messiah, 
he was by no means one who would have used the words 
attributed to Taxo. Non-resistance was not his policy. 
Certainly he taught that it was better to die than to 
break the law of God ; but it was death with arms in 
their hands that he exhorted his followers to meet. His 
watchword, " We have no master but the Lord," led him 
to fight with earthly weapons, and the cruelties and 
excesses of his companions have stained the name of 
Zealots for all time. 

There is so much more matter interesting and import- 

1 Comp. 2 Mace. x. 6 : " They wandered in the mountains and in 
dens like beasts." Heb. xi. 38. 


ant in this little work that we need not spend further 
time on the interpretation of " Taxo." Suffice it to say 
that Hilgenfeld affirms the original to have been rfy' 
363, i.e. numerically Messiah. But it is inconceiv- 
able that Messiah should be represented as hiding in a 
cave and there awaiting death. Volkmar writes rago, 
which he makes = 431, and deems that the person 
intended is Akiba, the comrade of Bar-Cocheba. Colani 
and Carriere pronounce that the translator has mistaken 
the original Aramrean word which meant " ordinance " 1 
for a proper name, whereas the sentence really signifies, 
" there shall be a man of the tribe of Levi who shall 
promulgate an ordinance, or give an instruction" the 
instruction being the address to the sons which follows, and 
the speaker being Eabbi Jehouda-ben-Baba, who, according 
to a Eabbinical tradition, acted somewhat in the manner 
of " Taxo " towards the end of the persecution of Adrian. 2 
But the date of the Assumption renders this last theory 
utterly untenable. Perhaps, after all, the simplest solu- 
tion is to regard the word as a corruption of the text. 

To proceed : " Then shall His (Jehovah's) kingdom be 
manifested in all His creation, and the devil (Zabulus) 
shall find his end, and with him all sorrow shall vanish 
away. 3 Then shall power be given 4 to the messenger 

1 ND3D, found in Chaldee and Syriac in the sense of the Greek 
word roi^ig. 

2 See Revue de Thdol. pp. 80 ff. 

3 Comp. Isa. xxv. 8, xxvi. 21. The word Zabulus is merely 
another form of Diabolus, found in African Latin, di being pro- 
nounced as 2, and o changed into u. See Ronsch's article in Hilgen- 
fcld's Zeitschr. 1868, p. 100. The word is found in Cyprian and 

4 " Implebuntur manus," a translation of the Hebrew phrase for 


who is set in the highest place, 1 who soon shall avenge 
them (Taxo and his comrades) of their enemies." This 
"messenger" seems to be the prophet like unto Moses 
of Deut. xviii. 15, 18, who himself is called "the great 
Messenger" in chap. xi. of our book. Nor can we be 
intended to see in this personage the Messiah. At the 
most, the expected One was an equal of Moses, superior 
to him neither in person nor in act. The same expecta- 
tion of a faithful prophet (Trpo^rij^ Trterro?) is found in 
1 Mace. xiv. 41, where the epithet points to Moses, to 
whom it is specially applied. 2 The party among the 
Zealots, to which the writer belonged, looked for a 
heaven-sent Saviour and Deliverer to prepare the way 
for the visible reign of Jehovah ; and when the multi- 
tude, who were miraculously fed by Christ (John vi.), 
exclaimed : " This is of a truth that prophet that should 
come into the world," they were expressing the vague 
expectation of the advent of a personage like unto 
Moses, possessed perhaps of some Messianic features, 
but not the Messiah Himself. We see the difference in 
the estimation in which our Lord was held by His con- 
temporaries. " Some said," we are told (John vii. 40), 
" of a truth this is the prophet. Others said, This is the 
Christ." And although we know from Christ's own 
words 3 that Moses wrote of Him when he foretold the 
appearance of a prophet like unto himself, yet this was 
by no means the general view, and a distinction between 

consecrating or appointing to an office. Comp. Ex. xxviii. 41 ; 
1 Kings xiii. 33. 

1 " Nuntii qui est in summo constitutus." 

2 See Num. xii. 7 ; and in the New Testament, Heb. iii. 2, 5. 

3 St. John v. 46 ; comp. i. 45 and Acts xxvi. 22. 


Christ and this prophet was generally recognised. 1 In 
the following eloquent passage which speaks of final 
triumph, Jehovah Himself comes to the rescue of His 
oppressed people : 2 " Then shall the Heavenly One arise 
from the seat of His kingdom, and come forth from His 
holy habitation, with wrath and indignation for His 
children's sake. And the earth shall tremble and quake 
to its utmost borders ; and the lofty mountains shall be 
humbled and shaken, and the valleys shall sink. The 
sun shall give no light, and shall turn into darkness ; the 
horns of the moon shall be broken, and she shall be 
turned into blood, and the circle of the stars shall be 
confounded. The sea shall retreat to the abyss, the 
springs of water shall fail, and the rivers shall be 
dried up ; because the Most High, the Eternal, the only 
God, 3 shall arise and come manifestly to chastise the 
nations and to destroy their idols. Then shalt thou be 
happy, Israel, and shalt mount on the necks and 
wings of the eagle, and thy days shall be fulfilled. 4 And 

1 See John i. 21, where, noting the use of the definite article, o 
vrpoQymis, Theophylact mentions the error of the Jews in ignoring 
the identity between the prophet and the Messiah. See Acts iii. 22. 

2 Merx and Schmidt see in this portion of the Assumption an 
Essenic psalm. It certainly runs easily into a strophic arrangement. 
But the writer was not an Essene, for in that case, as Schiirer has 
pointed out, he would not have jeered (as he does in chap, vii.) at 
the Pharisaical purifications (Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 8. 10). 

3 " Summus Deus, eternus, solus." There are passages parallel to 
this prophecy in 2 Esdr. (e.g. vi. 24), in the Book of Enoch (i. 6, 
xci. 9), and in the Psalms of Solom. xviii. 4. Comp. Joel ii. 10, 31, 
iii. 15. 

4 " Et ascendes supra cervices et alas aquilae, et implebuntur " 
(dies tui). The last words are a conjecture of Fritzsche. There is 
evidently something omitted in the MS. With this reference to the 
eagle we may compare 2 Esdr. xi., xii. ; but there is no need, with 


God shall exalt thee that thou shalt cleave to the starry 
heaven, over the place of their habitation. 1 And thou 
shalt look from above and see thine enemies on earth, 
and shalt know them, and rejoice, and give thanks, and 
acknowledge thy Creator." 

The triumph over the heathen power of Rome, here, as 
in the Book of Esdras, represented under the symbol of 
the eagle (which had twelve feathered wings and three 
heads), is ascribed to the direct intervention of Jehovah, 
the signs that are to accompany His presence being 
adopted from the imagery of the Old Testament prophets. 
There is no hint of a conquering Messiah, a Son of 
David, who should restore the dominion of Israel, and 
reign a mighty King over an innumerable people. The 
Zealot could not contemplate the accession of any earthly 
monarch to the government of the chosen nation ; his 
hopes centred in the restoration of the theocracy and the 
visible rule of Jehovah. It is with this grand expecta- 
tion that he comforts the stricken hearts of his brethren. 
Then he proceeds to define the time of this epiphany. 
Addressing Joshua, he says : " Keep these words and this 
book ; for," he continues, " from my death and assump- 
tion unto His appearing shall be two hundred and fifty 

Volkmar, to conclude that Pseudo- Moses borrowed the symbol from 
Esdras. The profane introduction of the Koman eagle into the 
temple led to the insurrection repressed by Varus ; and the symbol 
would be naturally used by any writer of the period. Joseph. 
Antiq. xvii. 6. 

1 " Et faciet te haerere ccelo stellarum, loco habitationis eorum." 
If " eorum " is correct, it must refer to the heathen who are to suffer 
chastisement, and the place of their dwelling must be Koine. The 
idea is that the Israelites shall see and exult in the overthrow of 
their pagan enemies. Comp. Isa. Ixvi. 14, 24. 


times." At the commencement of the book, if the 
revised reading of editors may be trusted, the last year 
of Moses' life is said to correspond with the year 2500 
A.M. ; and, taking " the times " as weeks of years 
(250 x 7), we find that the great Parousia will occur 
in the year of the world 4250. This would be 45 A.D. 
according to the chronology of Joseph us, as gathered 
from some portions of his writings ; but no importance 
can be attached to this, as he is very inconsistent in his 
dates,, and we have no reason to suppose that Pseudo- 
Moses followed the system of chronology used by that 
writer. Without attempting to solve the enigma of the 
number of years, I should be inclined to suppose that 
the seer had no definite date in his mind, and merely 
assigned this visible interposition of Jehovah to the 
distant future, using terms in his vaticination with 
which the prophets of old had made him familiar. 

But it is time now to turn to the second part of the 
Assumption. When Joshua heard the words of Moses, 
we are told, he rent his clothes, and fell upon his face, 
addressing his leader with words of grief and fear : 
" What a word is this that thou hast spoken, full of 
tears and sorrow ! l Thou art leaving this thy people. 
What place will receive thee, and what will be the 
memorial of thy burial ? Who will dare to transfer thy 
body hence as that of any other mortal man ? Other 

1 " Qtue est plena lacrimis et gemitibus." Eurip. Hec. 230 : 
aTsvoLypuv, ovfe ^oocpvuv xsvog. The first words of Joshua's speech 
are : " Quid me celares, Domine Moyse ? et quo genere celabo de 
quo locutus es voce acerba 1 " Volkmar and Wieseler read " zelares " 
and "zelabor" for "celares "and "celabo;" and the latter sees a 
reference here to the party of Zealots to which the seer belonged. 


men are buried in the earth ; but thy grave is from the 
rising to the setting sun, from the south to the north ; 
the whole world is thy sepulchre. And thou wilt 
depart ; and who will nourish thy people ? Who will 
pity them and be their leader ? And who will pray for 
them every day that I may bring them into the land of 
the Amorites ? How shall I be able to lead them as a 
father guides his only son, or a mother her daughter now 
ripe for marriage ? And how shall I give them food 
and water ? For the people have so increased under thy 
prayers that they number now a hundred thousand men. 
The kings of the Amorites, when they hear that thou art 
departed, will war against us, thinking that there is no 
longer among us that sacred spirit (Moses) worthy of the 
Lord, manifold and inconceivable master of the word, 
faithful in all things, the Divine prophet throughout the 
world, the perfect teacher. And they will say : ' Let us 
attack them. 1 If our enemies have once sinned against 
their Lord, they have now no defender to pray for them 
to the Lord, as Moses was a mighty messenger, 2 who every 
hour, day and night, had his knees pressed to the earth, 
looking to the Almighty and praying Him to visit the 
world with mercy and justice, remembering the covenant 
of the fathers.' Yea, they will say, ' He is with . them no 

1 This is an important passage, showing the regard in which Moses 
was held. " Seel et reges Amorreorum cum audierint expugnare 
nos, credentes jam non esse semet (secus, Fr.) sacrum spiritum 
dignum Domino, multiplicem et incomprehensibilem, dominum 
verbi, fidelem in omnia, divinnm per orbem profetem, consum- 
mation in saeculo doctorem jam non esse in eis, dicent eamus ad eos." 
Chap. xi. Comp. Dent, xxxiv. 10 ff. 

2 " Magnus nuntins," as we have seen above, " the prophet like 
unto Moses " called " nuntius qui est in summo constitutus." 


more, let us drive them from the face of the earth.' 
And what shall become of this thy people, my lord 
Moses ? " 

To this sorrowful appeal Moses answers with encourage- 
ment. He tells Joshua to fear nothing. All nations are 
in God's hands, who has predetermined all that happens, 
even to the least particular, and unto the end of time. 
" The Lord," he proceeds, " hath appointed me to pray 
for the people, and to make intercession for their sins. 
Not for my strength nor for my weakness hath this 
befallen me, but from His mercy and long-suffering. 
And I tell thee, Joshua, that it is not for the piety of 
this people that thou shalt destroy the nations. The 
vault of heaven and the foundations of the world were 
created and approved by God, 1 and are beneath the ring 
of His right hand. 2 They who keep the commandments 
of God shall be increased, and prosper in their way ; 
but sinners and the disobedient shall have no part in 
the promised blessings, and shall be punished by the 
heathen with many torments. For it is not possible 
that He should destroy His people utterly. For God 
will come forth, who hath foreseen all things in every 
age, and His covenant is established, and with an oath, 
which" . . . 

Here the manuscript ends, some ten or twelve leaves 
being lost. The missing fragment doubtless contained 
the conclusion of Moses' address, and then told how 
Joshua departed to his appointed work, and how Moses 

1 Gen. i. 31. 

2 MS. : " Sub nullo dexterse illius sunt." This has been rightly 
restored by editors to " sub annulo," etc. Comp. Hag. ii. 23. 


took his Pisgah view of the promised land, died, was 
buried by the angels in spite of Satan's opposition, and 
received his "assumption"- his mortal body being laid 
to rest in the unknown valley, his immortal part being 
escorted by angel bands to heaven itself. 

It is unfortunate that the only quotations of, and 
references to, the Assumption which have reached us 
from antiquity contain sentences and statements not now 
extant, though there can be no reasonable doubt that 
they were portions of the original document. From our 
present fragments we can gather enough, however, to 
teach us the importance and utility of the work. 

Like many other apocalyptic productions, it is a com- 
bination of history and prophecy, partly a narrative of 
past events, partly an ideal view of the future. It is 
not so much an independent prophecy, wherein the seer, 
constrained by the overmastering spirit, pours forth a 
stream of rebuke, warning, and prediction, as an expo- 
sition and development of hints given in the Pentateuch, 
and especially in Deuteronomy, so that Wieseler has 
termed it " a prophetical Midrasch." "Written, as it 
must have been, in the first half of the first Christian 
century, it contains no trace of Christian ideas, or of any 
acquaintance with the pretensions, the life and death of 
Jesus. That in some respects our Blessed Saviour would 
have corresponded to the notion of the coming prophet 
entertained by some of the Zealots, is obvious. As 
claiming no earthly sovereignty, He would have suited 
the sentiments of those who would own no lord but 
Jehovah ; but the moral triumphs to which His kingdom 
aspired, the bloodless victories of religion, would have 


been very far from answering their hopes or fulfilling 
the desires of their fiery hearts. The prophet whom 
they had taught themselves to expect was merely the 
precursor of the restored theocracy, when, under the 
visible chieftainship of Jehovah, the heathen should be 
destroyed as the doomed Canaanites perished, and Israel 
should rise victorious by earthly arms wielded under the 
direction and with the assured assistance of God Himself. 
At the same time it is interesting to remember that one 
at least of Christ's apostles was a Zealot, and learned to 
see in his Master " the Prophet " and the Messiah. Now 
this sect, as an offshoot of the Pharisees, though in some 
respects opposed to them, doubtless shared with them the 
belief in the resurrection of the dead; but there is no 
direct statement of this doctrine in the Assumption. 
Writing in the character of Moses, who has left no 
teaching on the subject in the Pentateuch, the seer 
would naturally avoid dogmatising on this matter ; but 
he uses the phrase " being gathered to his fathers," which 
perhaps in his time carried with it the hope of the 
resurrection. There is, indeed, no trace of Christian 
doctrine throughout the work ; it is distinctly narrow 
and national. The earth is made for the chosen people, 
whose strength lies in obedience to the law, and whose 
transgressions shall be punished by the hands of the 
heathen. But the Lord will never wholly destroy the 
Israelites for His oath's sake and the promise made to 
their forefathers. The seer never looks to the salvation 
of the heathen. They are raised up merely as instru- 
ments of chastisement for sinning Jews ; and when this 
purpose is fulfilled, they shall themselves be judged, and 


meet with the reward of their lawlessness and idolatry. 
He does, indeed, condescend to correct some of their 
prevalent errors concerning creation and religion, but 
this is done for the sake of his own people who might 
be led astray by the paganism of Herod's court. The 
selfish, narrow prejudice which so often appears in the 
Gospels, disdaining to hear of favours offered to non- 
Israelites, is found conspicuously in the Assumption. 
That side of the Messianic idea which promised light and 
grace to the Gentiles, was repugnant to the Zealot. His 
keen sense of injury at the hands of Home blinded him 
to the possibility of the conversion and acceptance of 
those who were now aliens. Nor did he see the necessity 
of a Messiah such as we Christians receive. If we 
regard the description of Moses given above, we shall 
observe that the prophet usurps the place of Messiah ; 
this " Divine " personage leaves no room for Christ ; he is 
the mediator between God and the people, the appointed 
intercessor, and nothing higher or more heavenly is 
expected. The idea of the Son of God made man is 
wholly foreign to the seer's theology, and the only 
Messiah he looks for is " that prophet " who should 
herald the restoration of the theocracy. And that this 
" nuntius in summo constitutus " is not a Divine person, 
is shown by the very phrase used of him above : " his 
hands shall be filled." For this is an expression employed 
to designate the consecration of an earthly priest or 
prophet, and applies not to an angel or to Deity Incar- 
nate. The hope of Pseudo-Moses is, as I have said, 
confined to the Parousia of Jehovah Himself displayed 
by some manifest sign as the Shekinah, when under His 



guidance Israel should overthrow her enemies. In 
believing that this appearance was to happen soon, the 
Zealot's view was much the same as that of the primitive 
Christians, who could say with firm confidence, "the 
coming of the Lord draweth nigh," and expect that He 
would in their day restore again the kingdom to Israel. 
That this hope was a great support in times of distress 
and persecution may well be imagined ; and it was to 
give definiteness to this expectation and to enforce its 
lesson that our book was written. 

For showing the hopes and opinions of an influential 
party among the Jews at the beginning of the first 
Christian century few documents of greater interest than 
the Assumption of Moses have reached our times. And 
the particular point which the book illustrates, viz. that 
the expectation of a personal Messiah was not universal, 
is worthy of more study than it has received. 1 


In addition to the Book of Baruch, a translation of 
which is contained in the Apocrypha of our English 
Bibles, there had from old time been known to exist a 
certain document in the Syrian language, called " The 
Epistle of Baruch the scribe to the nine-and-a-half tribes 
beyond the Euphrates." ' This had been published in 

1 The same view is found in another Pseudepigraphic work, the 
Book of Jubilees. 

2 There exists also an Ethiopia work called by Dillmann, " Keliqua 


the London and Paris Polyglots in Syriac and Latin, in 
Latin alone by Fabricius in his Codex Pseudepigr. Vet. 
Test., and in English by G. Whiston in his Authentic 
Records. Later, a French rendering was given by Migne 
in the Dictionnaire des Apocryphes, and Lagarde put forth 
again the Syriac version in his Syriac edition of the Old 
Testament Apocrypha. Many questions resulted from 
the publication of this document. Was it a complete 
work or a fragment of some larger treatise ? What was 
its connection, if any, with the usuallly-received apocry- 
phal work of Baruch ? What was its original language ? 
Who and of what country was its author ? Jew or 
Christian ? And when was the letter written ? These 
inquiries greatly exercised the minds of scholars abroad, 
and the theories evoked by the discussion show a wide 
divergence of opinion. 1 But many of these questions 
were answered by the discovery in 1866 of a Syriac 
version of the Apocalypse of Baruch, of which this 
Epistle formed the concluding portion. This interesting 
work was brought to light by the industry of A. N". 
Ceriani, the learned librarian at Milan, to whom we are 
indebted for the disinterment of that long-lost book, the 
Assumption of Moses. In a MS. of the sixth century, 
Ceriani found a complete copy of the Apocalypse, which 
he published first in a Latin translation, and then in the 
original Syriac, both in ordinary type, and later (1883) 
in a photo-lithographed facsimile. This Latin version 
has been reprinted by Fritzsche, with a few emendations, 

verborum Baruchi haud apocrypha, quae ad tempus quo in Babylonia 
captivi erant pertinent." Ohrest. dEthiop., Lips. 1866. 
1 See Kneucker, Das Buck Baruch, pp. 190 ff. 


and is commonly regarded as equivalent to the genuine 
copy. 1 

Before discussing the contents of the book, a few 
words must be prefixed on the subject of the author and 
matters connected therewith. 

The earliest quotation of the book occurs in a lost 
work of Papias, the disciple of St. John, cited by 
Ireneeus (Adv. Hceres. v. 33. 3). Herein it is asserted 
that in Messiah's days the vine shall have a thousand 
branches, and each branch shall produce a thousand 
bunches, and each bunch shall have a thousand grapes, 
and each grape shall make a cor of wine. Before it 
was known whence this legend was derived, neologian 
critics, assuming it to have Christ as its author, found in 
it a subject of ridicule and offence. It is now shown to 
occur in the Apocalypse of Baruch, chap. xxix. That 
the saying was attributed to Christ is easily accounted 
for. Papias wrote his lost work between 120 and 130 
A.D., by which time our book must have become well 
known among Christians. The mention of Messiah 
occurs just before the legend ; and doubtless persons 
remembered the story of the vine in connection with 
the Messiah, and at last quoted it as spoken by Christ 
Himself. 2 Whether the Apocalypse is referred to in 
any of the catalogues of sacred books may reasonably be 
doubted. The term " Baruch," in Pseudo-Athanasius' 
Synopsis, and in the Stichometria of Mcephorus, belongs 

1 The most available comment on the book is that by Joseph 
Langen, Commentatio qua Apocalypsis Baruch anno superiors primum 
edita illustratur, Bonnse 1867. 

2 Ewald,:in Gott. gelehrte Anz. 1867, p. 1715. 


probably to the book so called in the Septuagint version. 
There are also other apocryphal books bearing this 
name, some of Gnostic, some of Christian origin, and it 
is possible that they were known to the writers of the 
catalogues. But a portion of the work from early times 
formed an integral part of the Syriac Bible, and to this 
day is used among the Jacobites in their funeral service. 1 
Its real date, however, can only approximately be deter- 
mined. Of course, the writer merely assumes the person 
of Baruch, the son of Neriah, for literary purposes, not 
with any idea of imposing upon the credulity of his 
hearers. He announces at the commencement that the 
word of the Lord came to him in the twenty-fifth year 
of Jechoniah, king of Judah. This at once places the 
revelation in an unhistorical region ; for Jechoniah lived 
eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem, reigned 
only three months, and then was carried captive to 
Babylon. And the departure from historical fact is 
continued in chap, vi., where it is said that on the next 
day after this revelation was made the city was taken 
by the Chaldeans. The clue to this apparent mistake is 
to be found in the nature of the treatise. It is an 
Apocalypse, and in it real events are introduced with 
the special purpose of foreshadowing or delineating other 
circumstances. 'Now this first destruction of Jerusalem 
adumbrated its final destruction under Titus, and we 
cannot doubt that the seer is referring to this latter 
calamity under the figure of the first. If he means that 
the vision carne to him twenty-five years after the 
Chaldsean invasion, he intends to affirm that he received 
1 Kenan, Journal des Savants, April 1877. 


the revelation so long after the ruin of the holy city, 
that is, about 95 A.D. Or the twenty-five years may be 
dated from the captivity of Jechoniah, which was some 
eleven years earlier, a mode of reckoning used by Ezekiel 
(e.g. chap. xxix. 17, xxx. 20, xxxi. 1) and the exiles in 
Chaldaea. This would make the date of our book to 
be about 84 A.D. That it was composed in early Chris- 
tian times may be gathered from certain passages which 
bear evident marks of being no late interpolations, 
but portions of the original work. Omitting for the 
present those which contain Messianic teaching, we 
will quote a few which betray a Christian spirit or 
some acquaintance with the literature of the New 
Testament. 1 Chap. x. 13, 14: "Ye bridegrooms, enter 
not into your chambers ; ye women, pray not that ye 
may bear children ; for the barren shall rejoice, and they 
that have not sons shall be glad, and they that have sons 
shall be sorrowful " (comp. Matt. xxiv. 1 9 ; Luke xxiii. 
29). Chap. xxi. 13 : "If this were the only life which 
men have, nothing could be more miserable " ( 1 Cor. xv. 
19). Chap. xxiv. 1 : " Lo the days come, and the books 
shall be opened, in which are written the sins of those 
who have sinned, and the treasure-houses shall be dis- 
closed in which is gathered the righteousness of those 
who were justified on earth" (Rev. xx. 12). Chap, xlviii. 
34 : " There shall be rumours many and messengers not 
a few ; and mighty works shall be shown, and promises 
made of which some shall be vain and some shall be con- 
firmed" (Matt. xxiv. 24-26). Chap. xx. 1, 2: "The 
days shall come when the times shall hasten more than 
1 Kneucker, p. 195. 


of old, and the hours shall speed on quicker than before, 
and the years shall pass away more rapidly than now. 
For this I have sustained Zion, that I might rather hasten 
and visit the world in her time " (" For the elect's sake 
those days shall be shortened," Matt. xxiv. 22). Chap, 
liv. 10: "Blessed is my mother among them that bear 
children, praised shall she be among women " (Luke i. 
'42, xi. 27). "For what gain have men lost their life, 
and what have they who were once on earth given in 
exchange for their soul " (chap. 1.). This is remarkably 
similar to Matt. xvi. 25, 26, especially as in both 
passages the pleasures of this life are contrasted with the 
joys of heaven. The many parallelisms between our book 
and the Eevelation of St. John make it almost a certainty 
that the seer was acquainted with the latter work. 1 
Thus it is said, chaps, xx., xlviii., that the end of the 
times draws near (Rev. i. 1, 3, xxii. 7); chaps, xxi., lix., 
that spirits stand before the throne of God like burning 
lamps (Eev. i. 4, iv. 5) ; chaps, ii., xiv., that the righteous 
intercede for sinners before God (Rev. v. 8, viii. 3) ; chap, 
xlviii., evil spirits and those who are inspired by them 
shall work miracles (Rev. xiii. 13, xvi. 14); chap, xxix., 
the hidden manna shall be given as a reward to the 
righteous (Rev. ii. 17). Chaps. Ixxvii., Ixxxvii., an eagle 
is sent to make a solemn announcement (Rev. viii. 13 
aerov) ; chap, xxviii., the number three and a half is used 
in mystic computation of time (Rev. iii. 9, etc.) ; chap, 
iv., the sacred city Jerusalem is taken up to heaven, 
which St. John sees descending (Rev. iii. 12, xxi. 2). 
Then there are many expressions which have a Christian 
1 See Langen, p. 4. 


sound, as Faith, Faithful, Those who believe, The 
written law, Future judgment, Promise of the life to 
come, The new world, The mouth of hell, The place of 
hope, Saved in his works (Jas. ii. 14). These and such- 
like terms do not necessarily imply that the writer was a 
Christian, which notion his views concerning the Messiah 
decidedly nullify ; but they show that he was conversant 
with Christian ideas, and had some acquaintance with the 
new literature which had sprung up under the gospel. 
It is supposed that the book was written before the 
Second Book of Esdras (as it is called in our Bibles). 
That in many points the two works have a remarkable 
affinity cannot be disputed. The only doubt is, which of 
the two is prior to the other. Many critics have decided 
that Baruch borrowed from Ezra ; but their arguments 
are very weak, and Schiirer has given reasons for deciding 
the other way, and assigning priority of composition to 
our book. According to him, Esdras is of a much more 
finished character, and shows greater maturity of thought 
and more lucidity of style points which intimate a later 
origin. But the point must be left undecided. 

Why the writer has assumed the name of Baruch is 
not difficult to imagine. The fame of one so well known, 
and associated with the great prophet Jeremiah, would 
add an authority to a work which no other personality 
would have offered. Since, too, as must be allowed, the 
book has a close and remarkable analogy with what we 
call the Second Book of Esdras, 1 another reason may be 
found for the appropriation of the name Baruch. We 

1 The two works are compared by Langen, p. 6 ff. See also Ewalcl, 
ut sup. p. 1707. 


need not, with Ewald, hold that the two works are the 
production of the same author (as indeed there are some 
facts which militate against this view) ; or that the Book 
of Baruch was intended to correct some erroneous 
opinions of Esdras concerning original sin ; but let us 
suppose that the Second Esdras was well known to our 
writer. Not wishing to repeat the personification of his 
predecessor, and yet desirous of giving his composition an 
authorisation not inferior, he fixed on the follower of 
Jeremiah as the recipient of the Eevelation which he 
purposed to publish. Whether in this he was consciously 
treading in the steps of the composer of the apocryphal 
Book of Baruch is a matter of doubt. Kneucker identifies 
the two. His view is, that, whereas in chap. Ixxvii. the 
seer was to write two letters, one to the nine-and-a-half 
tribes to be conveyed by an eagle, and one to the 
brethren in Babylon to be taken thither by three men, 
and only the former of these is forthcoming in the 
Apocalypse, the other is the " Baruch " of the Septuagint. 
This is described in the Syriac MS. as "the Second 
Epistle of Baruch the Scribe," the first being that to the 
nine-and-a-half tribes. Opposed to this conjecture is the 
fact, that the Book or Epistle of Baruch, according to the 
Eeceived text, is sent from Babylon to Jerusalem, not 
from Jerusalem to Babylon, and is generally allowed to 
be of a much earlier date than the Apocalypse, and of 
Hebrew origin. The Syriac inscription is probably an 
unauthorised interpolation intended to show a connection 
between the two treatises, but warranted neither by 
internal nor external evidence. That the work was 
written originally in Greek is evident from an examina- 


tion of the Syriac version, wherein are found actual Greek 
words transliterated, as well as what were evidently 
paronomasias in the original, but which have lost their 
force in translation. 1 Besides this, the superscription in 
the Syriac MS. expressly notifies that the work is a 
translation from the Greek ; and there is some evidence 
of the use of the Septuagint in the references to the Old 
Testament, as where Baruch is said to have received a 
revelation under the oak near Hebron (chaps, vi., xlvii., 
Ixxvii.), which idea is probably derived from Gen. xiii. 
18 : Trapa Trjv 8pvv TTJV Ma^/3pij, rj r)v ev Xeftpw/Ji. It is 
certain, too, that the author's locality is Jerusalem. 
" Your brethren," he says, chap. Ixxx., " are carried 
captive to Babylon, we, a poor remnant, are left here." 
Only in Palestine or Alexandria could such a book have 
been composed in the Greek language. But there is no 
trace of Juda30-Alexandrian philosophy (such as meets us 
in Philo's writings and the Book of Wisdom) to be found 
in the Apocalypse. Like Ecclesiasticus, it takes its stand 
on the plain dogmatic teaching of the Scriptures and the 
traditions concerning Messiah then extant. To none but 
Palestinian Jews, who had seen their holy city destroyed, 
could this prophecy, which promised restoration and 
prosperity to their ruined capital, have been addressed. 
This point being settled, we may fix the date at about 
A.D. 90. We have noticed above an argument for this 
date from the author's own statement concerning the 
time that the revelation was made unto him. Another 

1 See Kneucker, p. 191, note 2, and Langen, vii. We have in 
the Latin version, " agon et molestia in labore multo," which must 
be the equivalent of the Greek dyuv rs x.ccl 


may be drawn from Papias' reference to the book. The 
lost work of this Father was written about A.D. 120-130. 
Now he quotes this Apocalypse as well known to his 
readers. Such an acquaintance could hardly have been 
obtained under thirty years or more. This lands us again 
at the same period. So does the inference (if legitimate) 
that it was written after St. Matthew's Gospel and the 
Revelation of St. John. Nor could it have been com- 
posed after the total overthrow of Jerusalem by Adrian 
(A.D. 135). The destruction of the city by Nebuchad- 
nezzar and by Titus is mentioned, but no hint of a third 
and more effectual demolition is given. On the con- 
trary, restoration is promised after the second ruin, and 
the people, groaning under this calamity, are comforted 
with the thought of speedy and most complete re-estab- 
lishment. This will place the writing between A.D. 70 and 
A.D. 135, and help to confirm our previous conclusion. 

The book is divided into two unequal parts, the first 
(chaps, i. Ixxvii.) containing the historical points and the 
revelation of past and future, the second being the letter 
to the nine-and-a-half tribes. The former is sent to 
Babylon, which we must consider to mean Rome ; the 
latter, to the Jews dispersed in the Parthian kingdom, 
" across the river," as it is expressed, the Euphrates being 
the boundary line dividing the Eastern empire of the 
Parthians from the Western empire of the Romans. 
This distinction between the two great members of the 
dispersion is found in many other documents of this time, 
most of which, however, were written with reference to 
Rome. 1 The entire demolition of ancient Jerusalem, 
1 Ewald, p. 1713. 


with all its calamitous consequences, under Adrian led to 
the loss of much of the literature of the period, the 
preservation of any portion being probably due to the 
care of Christians. These carried with them in their 
wanderings the books which have come down to us or 
were known to the early Fathers. The letter at the end 
of the Apocalypse, as being addressed to the Eastern 
Jews, was soon separated from the other part, and 
translated into Syriac and widely circulated ; while the 
other section, comprising three-fourths of the whole, was 
so completely lost that it soon existed only in a Syriac 
version, which, as has been mentioned, itself remained 
unknown until quite recently. 

In these and such like apocalyptic writings there is a 
certain similarity which greatly conduces to their correct 
interpretation. Under the general design of comforting 
his countrymen in times of trouble and defeat with the 
hope of the speedy appearance of the Messiah, the seer 
composes a prophecy which shall embrace the past, the 
present, and the future. He represents himself as 
receiving direct communication from God, and enjoined 
to make known the revelation to men. Placing himself 
in the distant past, he gives a summary of the history of 
his people up to the present time, touches lightly on the 
events that pass before his own eyes, and then in figure 
and type shadows forth a glorious future which shall 
abundantly compensate the distress and humiliation 
now prevalent. This is very nearly an outline of the 
Apocalypse of Baruch. The first portion, comprising 
chaps, i.-lxxvii., is divided into seven sections, the close 
of each section being usually marked by a fast of seven 


days. 1 First Section : In the twenty - fifth year of 
Jechoniah, king of Judah, it was revealed to Baruch 
that Jerusalem and her people should be destroyed, and 
the inhabitants of the land should be carried away 
captive. Upon his asking whether the end of the world 
should come then, he is told that the prophecies which 
spoke of the everlasting covenant referred to a new world 
and a new Jerusalem which should be eternal. On the 
next day the Chaldeans took the city ; but first, that the 
enemy might not be able to vaunt their power, the angels 
destroy the walls, and hide in the earth the precious 
things of the temple. Zedekiah, the king, is taken 
captive to Babylon, while Baruch and Jeremiah are left 
in Jerusalem, and weep and fast seven days (L-ix.). 
Then Jeremiah, by Divine command, is sent to Babylon, 
but Baruch stays amid the ruins of the city to receive a 
revelation, which comes to him after another seven days' 
fast (x. xii.). 2 Second Section : As he stands on Mount 
Zion, a voice falls from heaven, telling him that his 
people are chastised in mercy in order to lead them to 
repentance: he complains that good men are no better 
off than sinners and the heathen, though this world was 
made for God's people ; 3 and the Lord answers, that this 

1 So 2 Esdr. v. 13, vi. 31. In other works of this kind the fast is 
usually of three days' duration (three weeks in Dan. x. 2). Comp. 
Assumpt. Mos. ix. 6 ; 2 Mace. xiii. 12 ; Test. XII. Patr. Test. 
Jos. 3. 

2 Historical truth is here violated. Jeremiah was compelled to 
go to Egypt, while Baruch in the course of time, according to Jewish 
tradition, made his way to Babylon. The seer has manipulated 
facts to suit the requirements of his Apocalypse. Comp. Jer. xliii. 
and Bar. i. 

3 This notion is found, 2 Esdr. vi. 55, ix. 13 ; Assumpt. Mos. i. 12. 


life is short and full of trouble, but the life to come 
shall set right all present anomalies. And he bids 
Baruch prepare himself for a new revelation (xiii. xx.). 
Third Section : At the end of seven days the seer comes 
to the appointed place, and asks impatiently to know the 
meaning and the issue of God's dealings with men. He 
is told that he is ignorant, but is comforted with the 
hope that the end is near, when good and evil shall meet 
their reward ; and the signs that shall precede this final 
time are enumerated under twelve divisions, concluding 
with the days of Messiah and His two advents the 
first to establish an earthly kingdom, the second to 
manifest His eternal reign, when He shall raise up those 
who have slept in hope, and reward them with heavenly 
glory. To the question as to the extent of the tribula- 
tion which shall precede this time, the seer is told that 
it will affect the whole earth. Then Baruch summons a 
meeting of the elders, and announces to them that Zion 
shall be destroyed, but shall be rebuilt again ; yet again 
it shall be ruined, and for the last time restored gloriously 
so as to last for ever (xxi.-xxxiv.). Fourth Section: 
Then the prophet, as he sleeps amid the ruins of the 
Holy Place, sees in a vision on one side a mighty forest 
girt by mountains, and on the other a vine, from whose 
roots issued a placid streamlet. Anon this streamlet 
became a great river, and it overthrew the mountain, 
and tore up the forest, leaving of it nothing but one 
cedar, which also at length it destroyed. And the vine 
and the stream exulted over the fallen cedar, and the 
vine grew more and more, and all the plain was filled 
with flowers that fade not. The seer is told that hereby 


is signified the fate of four kingdoms which have afflicted 
Zion, the last of which, the most powerful and most evil 
of them all, is to perish before the arms of Messiah. 
" Then shall be revealed the chieftainship of my Messiah, 
who is like a spring and a vine, and He on His appear- 
ing will annihilate that congregation. And that cedar 
which thou sawest is the last prince (dux ultimus) who 
is left alive. He shall be brought in chains before 
Messiah on Mount Zion, and there be put to death" 
(xxxv. xlvi.). Fifth Section : After another seven days' 
fast Baruch tells the people of his approaching departure, 
and urges them to continue faithful to the law, explain- 
ing to them the retribution of the world to come. 
Another seven days' fast intervenes, and then Baruch, in 
answer to his prayer, is told of the tribulations that are 
to come upon the earth, and of the manner of the 
resurrection both of the evil and the good, and their 
punishment and reward (xlvil-lii.). Sixth Section : After 
this, he sees a vision of alternate dark and bright waters, 
which is explained as a record of Israel's history from 
Adam to Messiah (xlviii. Ixxi.). The glories of Messiah's 
eternal kingdom are then unfolded. Baruch is informed 
that shortly he will be taken from earth, though not by 
death (liii.-lxxvi.). 1 Seventh Section : He again announces 
his departure to his friends, prays for their welfare, and 
on the twenty-first day of the eighth month writes two 
letters, one to the exiles in Babylon, which he sends by 
the hands of men, and one to the nine-and-a-half tribes 
beyond the river, which he entrusts to an eagle. The 
latter Epistle is given in full, and concludes the book. 
1 Comp. 2 Esdr. xiv. 9, 49 (Fr.). 


In it he comforts his distant brethren under their trials 
with the remembrance that God has not cast off His 
love for them, but is only temporarily chastening them 
for their disobedience. Nebuchadnezzar indeed has been 
permitted to afflict them grievously, but it was the Lord 
who destroyed the forts and walls ; and He also hid the 
sacred vessels that the heathen should not rejoice over 
them. All shall be changed ere long ; the day is soon 
coming when the Gentiles shall be punished for their 
iniquity, and Israel shall be rewarded ; only let them 
prepare for the life to come by virtue and obedience, and 
all shall be well with them (Ixxvii-lxxxvii.). The other 
Epistle is not given, and some, as I mentioned above, 
have considered the Septuagintal " Baruch " to be the 
missing document. But as this theory is inadmissible, 
we must deem either that the writing is wholly lost, or 
that the two Epistles were identical. There is nothing 
improbable in the latter supposition. Their tenor would 
naturally be similar, and it is difficult to see what more 
the seer could have said than he had already expressed 
in the extant letter. The conclusion of the book may 
have told how Baruch was taken from the earth, after 
he had seen in a vision all the regions of the world, as 
it had been promised him. 

Such being a general view of the contents of the 
Apocalypse, we can now enter more particularly into 
some of the matters contained in it. And first, there 
are some puzzles connected with numbers which must 
be mentioned. Two such riddles confront us, a shorter 
and a longer. 1 The former concerns the end of the 

1 Ewald expounds them with zest, Gott. gel. Anz. pp. 170-8. 


present world. This is to happen at the conclusion of 
" two parts weeks of seven weeks." x The seven weeks, 
which are probably derived from Dan. ix. 25, imply an 
interval of 49 years, which must be reckoned from the 
destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. The expression "two 
parts " means two-thirds, as in Hebrew and Latin. Two- 
thirds of this period, say 33 years, would land us in the 
reign of Trajan (A.D. 98117). In the chapter pre- 
ceding this prophecy the seer foretells a course of twelve 
calamities, each more crushing than its predecessor, which 
should happen before the end. These may be well 
understood of events up to the death of Domitian 
(A.D. 96). But all this is pure speculation, and calcula- 
tions founded hereon cannot be trusted. The longer 
riddle is on safer ground, being a history of past events 
in the form of prophecy (chaps. liii.-lxxiv.). The seer 
beholds a vast cloud rising from the sea, and discharging 
black and clear water alternately twelve times in suc- 
cession. Under this image of dark and bright waters 
following each other in succession, the writer represents 
the history of man from Adam to the first destruction of 
Jerusalem. The alternation of light and shade, prosperity 
and adversity, reward and punishment, in human records, 
is compressed into twelve great periods, the character 
of which is marked by the changed appearance of the 
waters in the vision. " And it came to pass," says the 

1 " Mensura autem et supputatio temporis illius erunt duae partes 
hebdomades septem hebdomadarum " (chap, xxviii.). This some- 
what obscure sentence may be intended to signify that this time of 
tribulation is divided into seven parts which are weeks, and into 
two parts which are also of septenary dimensions. So Langen, 
p. 16. 



seer, " that the cloud began to rain down upon the earth 
the waters with which it was charged. And I saw that 
the aspect of the waters was not one ; for first they were 
black for a time, and then they became bright, but these 
were scanty ; and afterwards I saw black waters a second 
time and then again bright ; and this was done twelve 
times ; but the black were always more abundant than 
the bright. Last of all, the cloud poured forth waters 
blacker than ever, and fire mingled with them. This 
fire was lightning, which gave shine to the whole earth, 
and healed the regions on which the dark waters had 
fallen. Then twelve streams arose from the sea, and 
subjected themselves to this lightning." Upon the seer 
praying for the interpretation of this mystery, the angel 
Eamiel is sent to explain it thus : " Whereas thou sawest 
first black waters descend upon the earth, this is the sin 
which Adam, the first man, sinned. For since by his 
transgression came into the world death, which was not 
in his time, and sorrow and pain, and labour, what could 
there be blacker than these things ? Adam endangered 
his own soul and the souls of other men, so that all who 
lived on earth perished in the Flood. These are the first 
black waters. And whereas after these thou didst see 
bright waters, this denotes the advent of Abraham and his 
son and his sons' sons and those who are like unto them ; 
because at that time, though there was no written law 
among them, yet the commandments were duly observed, 
and faith in the judgment to come arose, and the hope of 
a new world was then built up, and the promise of the 
life hereafter was planted in men's hearts. These are 
the first bright waters which thou sawest." And thus the 


aiigel expounds the signification of the vision unto the first 
destruction of Jerusalem and onwards to Messiah's time. 
Then we have the doings of subsequent sinful generations, 
especially the Egyptians, contrasted with Moses, Joshua, 
and the Sinaitic revelations ; the works of the Amorites 
and magicians contrasted with the times of David and 
Solomon ; the revolt of Jeroboam and the sins and 
punishments of his successors set against the piety of 
Hezekiah and his defeat of Sennacherib ; the ungodli- 
ness of Manasseh against the integrity of Josiah. The 
eleventh downpour represents the tribulation in Baruch's 
own time ; and the twelfth bright water adumbrates the 
restoration of Israel. The last dark water represents the 
tumult and tribulation which will come upon the earth 
before the final advent of Messiah. In this interpreta- 
tion some points are noteworthy. There is a strange 
opinion about Manasses, king of Judah (chap. Ixiv.). It 
is said that his impiety was so heinous that he was con- 
demned to the penal fire. Ignoring the old tradition of 
his repentance and consequent acceptance with God 
(2 Chron. xxxiii. 12, 13, 19), of a belief in which the 
apocryphal " Prayer of Manasses " is an evidence, Pseudo- 
Baruch testifies that though his prayer was heard, he 
himself was lost. "When he was placed in the brazen 
horse," probably an image connected with the worship of 
Moloch, " the figure was melted with the ardent heat, 
and he perished therein, a sign of the end that awaited 
him. For he had not lived a perfect life, nor was he 
worthy ; but by this sign he learned by whom he was to 
be tormented hereafter. For He who can reward is also 
able to punish." The legend found in the Apostolical 


Constitutions and elsewhere l gives a very different 
result. According to these authorities, at his prayer, the 
image fell to pieces, and he escaped unharmed, returned 
to Jerusalem, and lived afterwards piously and prosper- 
ously. The opinion of Manasses' damnation in spite of 
his prayer is, as far as we know, peculiar to Pseudo- 
Baruch. Concerning the angels who "kept not their 
first estate," our seer holds the notion that they fell by 
their commerce with the daughters of men. " Adam," 
he says, " imperilled not only his own soul but the angels 
also. For at the time when he was created they had full 
liberty, and some of them descended and had intercourse 
with women ; and then they who thus offended were 
tormented in chains. But the rest of the host of angels, 
an innumerable company, kept themselves pure." This 
interpretation of Gen. v'i. 4 is, in the main, one that is 
common enough in Jewish, and indeed in Christian, 
commentaries. But it has a special feature which 
differentiates it from other glosses. The writer seems to 
teach that, as the tree of knowledge was the trial of 
Adam's faith and constancy, so the beauty of mortal 
women was appointed to be the probation of angels ; and 
that the difference between good and bad angels con- 
sisted in the continence of the one and the unchastity of 
the other. The " tormenting in chains " reminds us of 
2 Pet. ii. 4 and Jude 6, and is confirmed by many 
expressions in the Book of Enoch. 2 

1 Apod. Constit. ii. 22 ; Suidas, s.v. Manasses ; Fritzsche, Exeg. 
Handb. zu d. Apokr. i. p. 1 58. 

2 E.g. v. 16, x. 4 ff., xiv. 4, etc. Such passages as these substantiate 
the reading anpa,7;j chains, not oipal^ dens, in 2 Pet. ii. 


There are some other peculiarities in this book which 
are interesting. The seer claims to have revelations 
made to him in two ways, by an angel, and by the voice 
of God. The angel he names Ea.miel, " who presides 
over the visions of truth " (chap. lv.), and who tells him 
(chap. Ixiii.) that he was the agent in the destruction of 
the host of Sennacherib in Hezekiah's reign. The name 
of this angel is not found elsewhere except in the Syriac 
version of 4 Esdr. iv. 36, v. 20, where the Latin has 
Jeremiel in most MSS., but in one (Turicensis) Huriel. 
Probably the name Eamiel is a corruption of Jeremiel, 
which word was formed from Jeremiah, who might well 
be called the prophet of truth, and give his name to 
the angel of the vision. The close connection between 
Baruch and Jeremiah makes this supposition very pro- 
bable. In other passages of Esdras (iv. 1, v. 20, x. 28), 
Uriel is the heavenly messenger, which is in accordance 
with statements in the Book of Enoch (e.g. chaps, ix., 
xx., Ixxiv.), where an angel of this name is often intro- 
duced. But it is very possible that the three names 
refer to the same heavenly being. Eevelation by the 
direct voice of God seems to be an unusual claim on 
the part of Jewish apocalyptic writers. Inspiration by 
Bathkol, the daughter of the voice, indeed is asserted by 
the Eabbis up to the time of the composition of the 
Mishna ; but this was never considered to be the voice 
of God Himself, but that of an angel, His agent or 
minister. Thus when the voice from heaven came to 
our Lord (John xii. 28), some of the people supposed 
that an angel spoke to Him ; when God called to Moses 
from the bush, it was an angel who addressed him ; and 


when the Law was uttered from Sinai, it was given 
"by the disposition of angels." 1 But Pseudo-Baruch 
especially distinguishes the heavenly voice from the 
revelation by the angel. " It came to pass after this," 
he says (chap, xxii.), " the heavens were opened, and I 
saw, and power was given unto me, and a voice from the 
highest was heard, and He said unto me." It is not till 
some time afterwards that Eamiel is said to interpret the 
vision of the waters. Langen supposes that the seer, 
being acquainted with St. Matthew's Gospel, took the 
hint of the narrative in chap, iii., and thus made the 
voice come immediately from God. I should think 
rather that the writer used the ambiguity of expression 
in the Old Testament to enhance the dignity of the 
revelation he was making. To do this he had no need 
to imitate St. Matthew's account. 

On the subject of original sin our seer is thought to 
oppose the more orthodox doctrine enunciated by Esdras. 
Both writers speak of the evil introduced into the world 
by Adam's sin, but they diverge when treating of its 
effects on his descendants. While Esdras teaches that 
Adam communicated an infected nature to his posterity, 2 

1 See Acts vii. 53 ; Heb. ii. 2. Joseph. Antiq. xv. 5. 3 : 
KctKhujTct, ruv "boyftuTuv KXI roe. ouiurctrct ray tv rdig vopoig B/ 
Tsrupd TOV Qeov ftctQcvTUv. 

2 " thou Adam, what hast thou done ? for though it was thou 
that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee " 
(2 Esdr. vii. 48). "Unto Adam Thou gavest commandment to 
love Thy way ; which he transgressed ; and immediately Thou 
appointedst death in him and in his generations" (iii. 7). "The 
first Adam bearing a wicked heart transgressed, and was overcome ; 
and so be all they that are born of him. Thus infirmity was 
made permanent" (iii. 21, 22). 


Pseudo-Baruch sometimes affirms that the sin of Adam 
is transferred to others by imitation alone. " If," he 
says (chap, liv.), "Adam first sinned^ and brought un- 
timely death upon all men ; yet also they who are born 
from him, each one of them hath prepared future 
torment for his own soul ; and again, each one hath 
chosen future glory for himself. Adam was the cause 
of guilt to his own soul only ; but we, each of us, are 
the Adam to our own souls." It is curious to trace here 
indications of that doctrine which, developed into Pelagi- 
anism, became the cause of serious controversy in the 
Christian Church. The received maxim among the Jews 
was that the whole world was comprised in Adam and 
sinned in his sin. The expression in Job xiv. 4 (""Who 
can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ? not one "), 
whether we take it interrogatively or optatively, comes 
to the same thing, and intimates that the old belief 
obtained : " Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin 
did my mother conceive me " (Ps. li. 5). 

Let us turn now to the doctrine of the Messiah con- 
tained in our book. As we know that the apostles and 
early believers expected the second coming of Christ to 
happen shortly, so Pseudo-Baruch looks for the appear- 
ance of Messiah in the course of a few years. In their 
utter dejection and distress, seated amid the ruins of 
their beloved Jerusalem, the sorrowing Jews could find 
comfort in nothing but the hope of a speedy restoration 
under the leadership of Messiah. The actual time of 
this Parousia is concealed under a veil of symbolical 
words ; but it is to be preceded by exceeding heavy 
calamities, confirming the saying " that man's extremity 


is God's opportunity." In his vision the seer beholds a 
kingdom (Eome), the power of which shall be greater and 
more evil than any before it ; and it shall rule supreme 
for many ages and be highly exalted ; in it truth shall 
not dwell, but all who are stained with crime shall find 
refuge therein, as evil beasts hide themselves in the 
forest. " And it shall come to pass when the time of its 
fall shall approach, then the dominion of Messiah shall 
be revealed, and He shall root up the multitude of that 
kingdom " (chap, xxxix.). But before that event, " the 
harvest of the good seed ^and the bad shall come, and 
the Almighty will bring upon the earth and its inhabit- 
ants and upon its rulers confusion of spirit and stupor 
of heart. And they shall hate one another and provoke 
one another to battle, and the base-born shall lord over 
those of high degree, and the mean shall be exalted 
above men of renown, and the many shall be delivered 
to the few, and those who were nothing shall rule the 
mighty, and the poor shall? be more than the rich, and 
the wicked shall be raised above the heroic, and wise 
men shall hold their peace and fools shall speak : the 
thought of men shall then not be confirmed, nor the 
counsel of the Almighty, nor the hope of those that 
hope. And when what has been foretold shall come to 
pass, on all men shall come confusion, and some of them 
shall fall by the sword in battle, and some shall perish 
in great tribulation, and some shall be ensnared by their 
own friends. But the Most High shall reveal it to 
those nations whom He prepared before, and they shall 
come and fight with the leaders who shall then remain. 
And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall escape 


from the war shall die in the earthquake, and whosoever 
shall escape from the earthquake shall be consumed in 
the fire, and whosoever shall escape from the fire shall 
perish in the famine. And it shall come to pass that 
whosoever shall escape from all these evils, of the 
conquerors and of the conquered, shall be delivered into 
the hands of my servant Messiah. For the earth shall 
devour the inhabitants thereof " (chap. Ixx.). Other 
signs are mentioned (chap, xlviii.), some of which, as we 
have seen above, have a striking similarity to those 
which our Lord foretold should usher in the last day. 
No safety shall anywhere be found except in the Holy 
Land, which " shall have pity on its own children and 
protect them in that day " (chap. Ixxi.). And then shall 
Messiah begin to be revealed. 

In his idea of the reign of Messiah, Pseudo-Baruch 
takes a different line from Esdras and other apocalyptical 
writers. The common notion of a great Leader, who by 
a course of uninterrupted triumph should restore' and 
enhance the glory of the depressed Israelites, does not 
satisfy his hopes. This is only one and a partial view of 
the effects of this Divine interference. The Messiah has 
a twofold kingdom, an earthly one which passes away, 
and a heavenly one which is everlasting. Such a ques- 
tion as that of the apostles (Acts i. 6): "Lord, wilt 
Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ? " 
spoke only of temporal restitution and sovereignty, and 
would not have intimated the full hope that we see to 
have been conceived by our seer. Of a suffering Messiah 
he has no notion ; nor does he give any trace of the later 
belief in two Messiahs, a Messiah ben David of whom 


were predicted glory and triumph, and a Messiah ben 
Joseph to whose lot fell all the foretold sufferings and 
woe. His Messiah is one only person viewed at different 
times and under a different aspect. First He comes as 
the great earthly conqueror, who was to emancipate the 
people from the dominion of Eome, punish their enemies, 
and restore the Jews to more than pristine glory. In 
this earthly kingdom all the Israelites who are then 
alive shall have their part ; and while those who have 
oppressed them shall perish, they who have never known 
them or had connection with them, and they who have 
joined themselves unto their God as proselytes, shall be 
saved, being in subjection to the ancient people. This 
dominion shall be established in the Holy Land, when 
the last leader of the enemy is brought in chains to Zion, 
and is there condemned and executed by Messiah. .The 
glories of this kingdom, in accordance more or less with 
ancient prophecy, are thus described (chap. Ixxiii.) : " It 
shall' come to pass when He shall have humbled whatso- 
ever is in the world, and sat down in peace for ever upon 
the throne of His kingdom, then shall He be revealed in 
happiness, and a great calm shall ensue. Health shall 
descend like dew, and sickness shall pass away, and care 
and distress and groaning shall no more be found among 
men ; and joy shall pace through all the earth. No one 
shall die before he hath filled his days, no sudden 
calamity shall happen to any. Trials, accusations, con- 
tentions, revenge, bloodshed, avarice, envy, hatred, and 
all such things shall be utterly abolished. For these are 
the things which have filled this world with evil and 
vexed the life of men. Then the wild beasts shall come 


forth from the forests and minister unto men ; and asps 
and snakes shall issue from their holes to become a little 
one's plaything. Women shall be delivered without 
pain. The reaper shall not be wearied, the builder shall 
feel no fatigue, for all works shall co-operate with the 
labourers in that time of peace." Like other apocalyptic 
writers, Pseudo - Baruch represents the happiness of 
Messiah's kingdom under the figure of a splendid 
banquet, in which mighty animals shall be served up as 
the food of the righteous guests. The Lord says to him, 
chap. xxix. : " Behemoth shall be brought to light from 
his place, and Leviathan shall ascend from the sea, two 
great creatures which I made on the fifth day of the 
creation, and have reserved unto this time ; 1 and then 
they shall be for food for them that are left. The earth 
also shall give her fruits, ten thousand for one." Then 
comes the passage about the vine (quoted by Papias) 
given above. He proceeds : " Those who have hungered 
shall be gladdened, and they shall again see prodigies 
daily. For spirits 2 shall go forth from my presence 
every morning to bring the odour of aromatic fruits, and 
at the close of day clouds dropping the dew of health. 
And then shall fall a second time the treasure of manna, 
and they shall eat thereof in those years, since these are 
they which have come to the end of the time." 

Such is our seer's description of the earthly reign of 
Messiah. But we may note that in two points he differs 
from many of the writers of Apocalypses. First he 

1 See 2 Esdr. vi. 49, where instead of " Enoch," the Syr. and 
Ethiop. version, read " Behemoth." Book of Enoch, lix. 7 ff. 

2 Spiritus ; or is it " winds " ? 


takes a more liberal view of the Gentile world than his 
contemporaries. While others were content to believe 
that salvation was of the Jews, and belonged to them 
exclusively, Pseudo-Baruch admits certain of the Gentiles 
to share the glories of Messiah's kingdom. Proselytes 
from the heathen, and any that had taken no active part 
in oppressing Israel, or from their remoteness of position 
knew nothing of God's people, would be allowed to 
participate in the blessings of the Messianic reign, pro- 
vided that they came in humbly as subjects of the 
heavenly Prince. It is interesting to observe an abate- 
ment of that jealousy which so frequently meets us in 
the Gospels, where an extension of God's favour to the 
Gentiles is reprobated by the Jews as an opinion profane 
and detestable. Our seer has lighted upon a great 
truth, though he knew not its full import, how that the 
Christ should be not only the glory of Israel, but, as 
the aged Simeon believed, a light to lighten the 
Gentiles, and to be for salvation unto the ends of the 
earth. 1 

The other point in which our seer differs from many 
Hebrew writers is this : he allows a participation in 
Messiah's earthly kingdom to those Jews only who are 
alive at His appearing. The common opinion among 
the Jews was that the righteous dead should rise from 
the grave to inherit His glory : this was to be their 
privilege ; they were to obtain part in the first re- 
surrection which was quite distinct from the general 
resurrection at the day of judgment. Of this opinion 
Pseudo-Baruch makes no mention. "Messiah," he says, 
1 Luke ii. 32 ; Acts xiii. 47. 


" shall protect the people who are found in the appointed 
place," i.e. Zion. 1 

How long this earthly kingdom is supposed to last is 
nowhere distinctly stated. The seer speaks of the time 
of Messiah's appearance being fulfilled (chap, xxx.), 
before He returns again in glory, but he does not assign 
any definite period to His earthly sojourn. The notion 
of a reign of a thousand years, which is generally 
supposed to have originated in Judaism and to have 
passed from thence to Christianity, does not appear in 
our book. There is a passage in Esdras 2 which reckons 
the duration at four hundred years. This is probably 
derived from the consideration that the period of afflic- 
tion in Egypt was to be compensated by a similar period 
of refreshment and rest. But Pseudo-Baruch gives no 
confirmation to this opinion. Nor does he assert with 
Esdras 3 that Messiah shall die. He passes over this 
event in silence, and proceeds to picture His return in 
glory in the fulness of time. At His coming all men 
shall arise again, not Jews only, but all men ; and not the 
righteous only, but sinners also. " To the dust it shall be 
said, Eestore that which is not thine, and place thou 
here all that thou hast kept safe till now " (chap. xlii.). 
" And the storehouses 4 shall be opened wherein have 
been kept the souls of the righteous, and they shall 

1 Comp. 2 Esdr. vi. 25, ix. 8, xiii. 16 if., 49. 

2 2 Esdr. vii. 28. Comp. Gen. xv. 13 and Ps. xc. 15. 

3 2 Esdr. vii. 29 : After these years shall my Son Christ die." 
This clause is wanting in the Arabic version, and many doubt its 

4 Promptuaria. The word often occurs in 2 Esdr. in the same 


come forth, and the multitude of souls shall appear in 
one concordant assembly, and the first shall rejoice and 
the last shall not be sad, for they shall know that the 
end of all the times has come. But the souls of 
sinners, when they shall see all things, shall pine away 
the more ; for they know that their punishment has 
come and the hour of their damnation " (chap. xxx.). 
" The earth shall restore the dead which it had to keep, 
changing nothing in their form ; but as it received them 
so it shall restore them, and as I [the Lord] have 
committed them unto it, thus shall it place them before 
me. And they shall recognise each other" (chap. 1.). 
Here again Pseudo-Baruch is not in agreement with the 
usual opinion of his contemporaries. Josephus l asserts 
that the Pharisees believed that the souls of the righteous 
alone would rise again, while the wicked would remain 
in prison everlastingly, suffering there eternal punish- 
ment. This dogma probably could not be truly predi- 
cated of all Pharisees, 2 but it was undoubtedly held by 
a large majority of Jews. The Book of Enoch, 3 which 
represents the current belief, teaches that the souls of 
sinners shall suffer vengeance without being united again 
to their bodies, but the righteous shall be raised, body 
and soul, to participate in the blessings of Messiah's 
reign. And such, with certain modifications, was the 
opinion that generally obtained in these and later times ; 
while Pseudo - Baruch teaches that synchronally with 

1 Antiq. xviii. 1. 3 ; Bell. Jud. ii. 8. 14. 

2 Comp. Acts xxiv. 15. Schoettgen, Hor. Heir, in Matt. xxii. 29, 
and in Job. vi. 36. 

3 See xcviii., ciii., cviii. 


Messiah's return shall be the general resurrection, the 
judgment, and the eternal reign. Whether the period 
between the first and second advent of Messiah corre- 
sponds with the millennium of St. John in Rev. xx. is 
a question which we cannot now discuss. That no 
mention of the first resurrection is made in our book is 
a fact which separates it from Jewish and Christian 
speculations. One thing is plain, that what others 
call the second or general resurrection is the great 
event which Pseudo-Baruch foresees as appertaining to 
Messiah's second appearance in glory. 

In presenting the details of this resurrection, the seer 
says, as St. Paul, that all will be changed, the aspect of 
the evil becoming more horrible, and that of the righteous 
more glorious ; the one being transformed to the splendour 
of the angels, the other terror-stricken by fearful sights 
and visions ; the one made bright and beautiful to receive 
the blessings of the eternal world, the other tantalised 
with the sight of the blessed and sent away to punish- 
ment. 1 On the subject of the happiness of the saved he 
enlarges in many passages. " They shall see the world 
which is now invisible to them ; they shall see the time 
which is now hidden from them. And time shall never 
more grow old to them ; for they shall dwell in the 
high places of that world, and shall be like unto the 
angels and equal to the stars, and shall be transformed 
into all the beauty that they can desire, and changed 
from light unto the radiance of glory. In their sight 
shall be unfolded the breadths of Paradise, and there 
shall be displayed before them the comeliness of the 
1 Chaps, xxxii., li. 


majesty of the living creatures which are beneath the 
throne, 1 and all the hosts of angels who now are holden 
by my word from being seen, and holden by my command 
that they should stay in their own places till the time of 
their appearance is come. Thus the excellency of the 
righteous shall surpass that of the angels. For the first 
shall succeed the last, those for whom they waited, and the 
last those whom they heard to have passed by ; and they 
have been delivered from this world of sorrow, and have 
laid down the weight of care." If it might seem an extra- 
vagant belief in the mouth of a Jew that, admitted to the 
life beyond the grave, he should be more excellent than the 
angels, yet his hope is far inferior to that of the Christian. 
We are told that we shall see God, behold " the King in 
His beauty." The Jewish prophet holds out no hope of this 
blessed vision. The righteous shall see highest orders of 
angels, and all the hosts of heaven, yea, the glory of God, 
the light in which He dwells ; but Himself no eye of 
man, however holy and blessed, shall behold. 2 

The scene of this happiness is the new world which 
God shall create especially for His true servants. And 
that the prophecies of the glory of Jerusalem may be 
rightly understood, the seer is taught that the earthly 
city may be destroyed once and again, but it shall be 
renewed in glory, and receive an everlasting crown 
(chap, xxxii.). "Dost thou remember," says the Lord, 
" what that city is of which I said, ' I have graven thee 

1 These are elsewhere (chap, xxi.) called "the powers that stand 
before God," and seem to mean the highest angels, the seven men- 
tioned Tok xii. 15 and Rev. viii. 2. 

2 So in the Book of Enoch xiv. 8. 2 Esdr. vi. 64 (Fr.) : " Primo 
vident in gaudio multo gloriam Altissimi qui assumit eas." 


upon the palm of my hands ' ? " No earthly city this, 
but a heavenly, mystic one, prepared before the world 
was made, shown to Adam before he fell in Paradise, 
but withdrawn, as Eden itself, after he had sinned. 1 
Abraham, too, beheld it when he kept watch between 
his victims slain ; and to Moses it was revealed on Mount 
Sinai, when he received the communication touching the 
Tabernacle and its appurtenances. Since then it has 
been kept in the secret place of God till the time for its 
disclosure should arrive. 2 This glorious city shall be 
the abode of the righteous. But the seer, unlike St. 
John, attempts not to describe its splendours ; no revela- 
tion of these particulars is made unto him, and he leaves 
it in its beauty a wonder and a mystery. The Paradise, 
in which he locates both the throne of God and the 
home of the blessed, is not the place in the other world 
where the souls of the just await the day of judgment, 
which was its usual signification among the Jews, but 
heaven itself, and, as one wtfuld suppose, the so-called 
third heaven. St. Paul, in the account of his own 
rapture (2 Cor. xii.), seems to make a distinction between 
Paradise and the third heaven, speaking of being on one 
occasion " caught up even to the third heaven," and 
on another, " being caught up into Paradise." But in 
this, as in some other points before noticed, Pseudo- 
Baruch does not adhere closely to the received opinion, 

1 In 2 Esdr. iii. 6, Paradise is said to have been created before the 

2 2 Esdr. vii. 26 : " The bride (or city) shall appear, and she 
coming forth shall be seen, that now is withdrawn from the earth." 
xiii. 36 : " Zion shall come, and shall be showed to all men, being 
prepared and builded." Comp. Rev. xxi. 2. 



but follows another tradition, or takes an original 

With regard to the punishment of the wicked, the 
seer holds this opinion. The} 7 shall first see the glory 
of the righteous, and then shall be led away to punish- 
ment, their home shall be in the eternal fire (chap, 
xliv.). Of the annihilation of the condemned other 
writers have spoken ; l but nothing of the kind is found 
in our book. Sinners are saicl, indeed, to waste away 
(" tabescere "), but this is only an expression to characterise 
their torment, which they are transfigured to endure. 2 

Such are the chief points of interest in this book; 
and they are useful in many ways, but chiefly as con- 
veying instruction on the tenets and expectations of the 
Jews about the period of the first Christian century, 
and exhibiting the contrast between real and spurious 


The work thus named has a special interest for 
Englishmen, as having been first made known in this 
country, in the middle of the thirteenth century, by 
the celebrated Grosseteste or Greathead, Bishop of 
Lincoln, who, with the aid of a clerk of St. Albans, 
translated it from Greek into Latin. It had been 

1 Pseudo - Clem. Horn. iii. 6 : slvoti yoip ei$ del ovx en ^vvstyrxi ot 
ti$ rov dii x-otl povw datfi'/ieoi'jTs; 0$6v. Thus also, Ascens. Isa. iv. 18. 

2 " Fiet enim aspectus eorum qui nunc impie agunt pejor quam 
est, ut sustineant supplicium." Chap. li. 


brought to his notice by one John de Basingstokes, 
Archdeacon of Leicester, who, while studying at Athens, 
had lighted upon this treatise, and thought so highly of 
it that he induced the bishop to obtain a copy of it 
from Greece. The credulous Matthew Paris, who sup- 
plies these particulars, asserts roundly that the document 
formed part of the sacred canon, but had been suppressed 
by the Jews on account of the evident prophecies of 
Christ contained therein. 1 This, of course, is a mistake. 
What is certain is, that it was well known in the early 
Church, was honoured and quoted by early Christian 
writers, and was named in some catalogues of sacred 
books. In the synopsis of Sacred Scripture which is 
found among the writings of Athanasius it is mentioned 
as one of the Apocrypha in conjunction with the Book 
of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, and some others ; 
and it is referred to in the Stichometria of Nicephorus 
of Constantinople. It is also probably named in the 
Acts of one or two minor Councils held in Home and 
Spain in the fifth and sixth centuries. But there is no 
doubt that Tertullian and Origen knew and quoted the 
book. Thus the former 2 writes : " For to my mind 
Paul was promised even in Genesis. Among the tropes 
and prophetical benedictions on his sons, Jacob, turning 

1 Matt. Par. Hist. Anylor., quoted by Mr. Sinker, whose most 
valuable and interesting work has supplied many of the materials of 
this paper. The title of this book is the following : Testamenta 
XII. Patriarcharum : ad fidem codicis Cantabrigiensis edita : Accedunt 
Lectiones cod. Oxoniensis. The Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs : An 
attempt to estimate their Historic and Dogmatic Worth, Cambridge 
1869, Appendix, containing a collation of the Roman and Patmos 
MSS., and Bibliographical notes, Cambridge 1879. 

2 Adv. Marcionern, v. 1. 


to Benjamin, said, ' Benjamin, a ravening wolf in the 
morning shall devour, and in the evening shall give 
victual.' For he foresaw that from the tribe of Benjamin 
would some day arise Paul, a ravening wolf in the morn- 
ing devouring, that is, at first laying waste the Lord's 
flock, as a persecutor of the Church, and afterwards 
giving victual at evening, that is, as time declined 
feeding the sheep of Christ as the Teacher of the nations." 
This is evidently a reproduction of the idea of a passage 
in the Testaments, where Benjamin thus addresses his 
children : l "I shall no longer be called a ravening 
wolf on account of your ravages, but a worker of the 
Lord, distributing food to them that work what is good. 
And one shall rise up from my seed in the latter times, 
beloved of the Lord, hearing His voice, enlightening with 
new knowledge all the Gentiles, bursting in upon Israel 
for salvation with the light of knowledge, tearing it 
away from it like a wolf, and giving it to the synagogue 
of the Gentiles ; and until the consummation of the ages 
shall he be in the synagogue of the Gentiles and among 
their rulers as a strain of music in the mouth of all. 
And he shall be inscribed in the holy books, both his 
work and his word, and he shall be a chosen one of God 
for ever ; and because of him iny father Jacob instructed 
me saying, He shall fill up that which lacketh of thy 
tribe." Similarly in another place Tertullian says : 2 
" Paul, from a persecutor becoming an apostle, who first 
shed the blood of the Church, and afterwards changing 
his sword for a pen, and turning his falchion into a 
plough, even Benjamin, a ravening wolf, then himself 
1 The translation is Mr. Sinker's. ~ Scorpiace, xiii. 


bringing victual, according to Jacob, he commendeth 
martyrdom and what he deems desirable." Origen cites 
the book by name. 1 " Nay," he says, " but in a certain 
little book, which is called the Testament of the Twelve 
Patriarchs, although it is not contained in the canon, we 
find the thought that by individual sinners we ought to 
understand individual Satans." This idea occurs in the 
Testament of Eeuben (chaps, ii. and iii.), who warns his 
sons that all sins are the embodiment of the seven spirits 
of evil which he specifies. There is possibly, too, an 
allusion to our work in Jerome, 2 who writes : " And if so 
it please you, you may read the fictitious revelations of 
all the patriarchs and prophets ; and when you have 
studied them, go and sing in the women's weaving shops." 
It is possible that the notion of Christ's descent from 
the tribes of Levi and Judah, found first in Irenreus, 
may have been derived from our book, where it occurs 
frequently. The passage alluded to is found in Iren 
Fragm. xvii. (ed. Harvey, ii. 487): "From them Christ 
was foreshadowed and acknowledged and born ; for in 
Joseph He was foreshadowed; from Levi and Judah He 
was born according to the flesh as king and priest ; and 
through Simeon He was acknowledged in the temple.'* 
These are nearly all the references to the book which 
occur. For many centuries it fell completely out of 
sight, and, indeed, nothing was heard of it till, as 
mentioned above, the Bishop of Lincoln took it in hand. 
But the Greek text did not profit by the invention of 
printing in its early stage, nor was it till quite the end 
of the seventeenth century that it was published in an 
1 Horn, in Josuam, xv. 6. 2 Adv. Vic/Hani, c. vi. 


available form. In 1698 Grabe printed the Greek text 
entire in his Spicilegium Patrum et Hcerdicorum from a 
MS. left to the University Library of Cambridge by 
Archbishop Parker, and containing that prelate's auto- 
graph. This is probably the original from which 
Grosseteste's version was made. It was reprinted by 
Fabricius in his Codex Pseudepigraplius, and by Gallandi 
in the first volume of the Bibliotluca Veterum Patrum, 
arid later by Migne in his Patrologia Grceca. There is 
only one other Greek MS. of the Testaments existing in 
England, and that is one in the Bodleian Library at 
Oxford a paper quarto of the fourteenth century, 
presented to the University by its then Chancellor, the 
Earl of Pembroke, in 1629. Quite lately two other 
MSS. have been examined, one in the Vatican Library, of 
the thirteenth century, and one in a monastery at Pat- 
mos, belonging to the sixteenth century, which has been 
noticed by Tischendorf. 1 A careful collation of these 
MSS., and of some transcripts made from them, has been 
published by the Eev. Eobert Sinker, and in his hands 
the text has assumed as great an accuracy as is likely to 
be attained till other aids are supplied from continental 
sources. Of versions, especially in the Latin language, 
there are numerous specimens. Mr. Sinker mentions no 
less than forty MSS. of the Latin version, and numerous 
published editions dating from 1510-1520. The work 
has been translated into most modern languages, in- 
cluding French, German, Dutch, Icelandic, etc. The first 
English version was printed by John Daye in 1577, 
long before the Greek text was published, the earliest 
1 Aus dem heiligen Lande, p. 341. 


Latin translation having appeared some sixty years 
previously. This English edition was the work of A. G., 
the initials probably of Arthur Golding, and was con- 
tinually reproduced in subsequent years. Another 
version, rendered from the text of Grabe and Fabricius, 
was put forth by W. Whitson in his Collection of 
Authentical Records, belonging to the 0. and N. Testa- 
ments, 1727. Of late years a new version has appeared 
in the second volume of Clark's Antc-Niccne Christian 
Library. This translation is the work of Mr. Sinker. 

The language of the original work was certainly 
Greek ; that is, the writing which we now possess is 
probably that which came from the hand of the author. 
It is at the same time quite possible that a Hebrew 
document may have existed on which the present was 
more or less based. But of this no trace has ever been 
found ; nor does the present writing bear any of the 
characteristics of a version, though it is thoroughly im- 
pregnated with Hebrew thought. In it we find an 
employment of the Septuagint : and there are certain 
paronomasias which could not have been derived from a 
Hebrew original, and many expressions which appertain 
to Greek philosophy, and have no equivalent in the 
Hebrew. We may conclude that the work as we have it 
is essentially Greek, and can be traced to no other source. 

Having thus sketched the literary history of the 
Testaments, we may next glance at its contents, and shall 
then be able to consider its origin and date, and to 
mention some of the features most noteworthy in points 
of history and doctrine. The name indicates the nature 
of the treatise. The twelve sons of Jacob herein give 


their final instructions to their children. With the 
account more or less extended of their lives, wherein are 
often contained facts not found in the canonical Scrip- 
tures, they combine moral injunctions for the guidance of 
their descendants, forecasts of future backslidings, and 
revelations concerning the coming of Messiah's kingdom, 
which shall triumph over sin, and bring universal peace 
and happiness. Thus in each section three elements are 
distinguishable, Haggadean history, appropriate exhorta- 
tions, and predictions of the future. Each Testament is 
supposed to embrace some chief topic, more or less 
apposite to the particular patriarch's life and character. 
Thus that of Eeuben is concerning Thoughts, Simeon con- 
cerning Envy, Levi concerning Priesthood and Arrogance, 
and so on, through the whole twelve. But let us take 
the sections in the order in which they occur, and give 
a short statement of the subjects contained in each 
Testament. Further details will be presented when we 
come to analyse these contents. 


Eeuben, before he died in the 125th year of his life, 
two years after Joseph's death, gathering his children 
and grandchildren around him, gives his last instructions. 
He confesses his great sin, and urges them to avoid his 
error, for which he had been sorely punished. Man has 
seven spirits given him wherewith to carry on his work 
in the world, viz. life, sight, hearing, smell, taste, speech, 
reproduction, and an eighth, sleep. With these Beliar 
(Satan) has intermingled seven spirits of error, which are 


these : fornication, greediness, fighting, fraud, arrogance, 
lying, injustice, and sleep, which belongs to both classes. 
In forcible language the patriarch denounces fornication. 
Women from the first have been seducers ; they caused 
the fall of the Watchers (eyptfyopoi,) before the Flood ; it 
behoves men to be wary in their converse with them. 
He ends by commanding his children to give heed to Levi, 
to whom with Judah is entrusted the chieftainship. For 
Levi shall know the law of the Lord, and shall judge Israel 
and offer sacrifices, until the consummation of the times 
of Christ the High Priest whom the Lord hath declared. 


He was fierce and unfeeling, and the most inimical to 
Joseph of all the brethren ; but Joseph bore no malice. 
His example should be followed, and brotherly love 
cherished. The writing of Enoch foretold that the 
Simeonites should corrupt themselves, and attempt to 
injure Levi ; but they shall not prevail. If they repent, 
they shall flourish and blossom like the rose. The 
Canaanites, Philistines (KaTTTraSo/ce?), and Hittites shall 
perish ; peace shall be established, Shem shall be glorified, 
because Messiah shall come. " Obey, Levi ! " he con- 
cluded, " and in Judah ye shall be redeemed ; for from 
these two tribes salvation shall arise." 


This is the most important of all the Testaments, 
professing to tell all that shall happen to the tribe 


till the day of judgment. Other patriarchs indulge 
freely in moral and religious warnings ; here the 
apocalyptic element is much more conspicuous. Levi 
narrates how that the Lord showed him two visions ; 
first of the heavens, seven in number, which he was 
privileged to see, because he was appointed to minister in 
sacred things, and to announce the coming of Him who 
was to redeem Israel. It was at this time that he was 
enjoined to take vengeance on the Shechemites. In the 
second vision he is invested by seven angels with the 
insignia of the priesthood. The first angel presents him 
with the holy oil and the rod of judgment; the second 
washed him with pure water, and gave him bread and 
wine, the holy of holies, and clothed him in glorious 
robes ; the third indued him with a linen ephod ; the 
fourth with a purple girdle ; the fifth gave him an olive 
branch ; the sixth put a crown on his head ; the seventh 
gave him a diadem and incense. And it was announced 
that his seed should be divided into three powers, which 
are obscurely explained. Jacob, knowing by revelation 
the office of Levi, taught him much lore concerning 
sacrifice, tithe, first-fruits, etc. He foretells the rejection 
of the Messiah, and the consequent dispersion of the 
nation. Levi then sketches his own family history, 
mentioning among other facts that Amram married his 
daughter Jochabed. He deduces from the prophecy of 
Enoch that the active iniquity of the people will last 
seventy weeks, and their punishment shall continue 
" until He Himself shall again visit you, and pitying, 
shall receive you in faith and water." 



He was keen and bold when young, loving and 
obedient to his parents, and won the favour of the Lord. 
His heroic deeds are recounted, many details being given 
which are not found in Scripture. He urges his children 
to avoid drunkenness and uncleanness, sins of which he 
had been guilty in the matter of Tamar ; and covetous- 
ness, which is pernicious. " Love ye Levi," he enjoins, 
" that ye may live long. To me the Lord hath given 
the kingdom, and to him the priesthood; and He hath 
subjected the kingdom to the priesthood. On me He 
bestowed things of earth, on him things of heaven. For 
as the heaven is above the earth, so is the priesthood 
above every earthly kingdom. And the Lord hath 
chosen him above thee to come near unto Himself, and 
to eat of His table and the first-fruits of the dainties of 
the children of Israel." He predicts wars and com- 
motions which shall last till Messiah comes. After this 
the patriarchs shall rise again, and they that suffered on 
earth shall be recompensed by a happy life. 


He begins by narrating the story of the mandrakes, 
amplifying the briefer account of Gen. xxx., and then 
sketches his own character and life. He was a husband- 
man, simple, quiet, industrious, faithful, scrupulous in 
payment of tithes and offerings. He enjoins his sons to 
practise agriculture and to be simple in their lives, so 


that Beliar may not seduce them to luxury and 


This patriarch asserts that he has no sin to recall but 
that against his father when he connived with his brethren 
in concealing from him the fate of Joseph, though he 
grieved bitterly for it. He gives a long account of the 
transaction, and as a lesson from this incident, urges his 
sons to be kind and merciful, not only to brethren, but 
even to irrational animals, remembering that as a man 
deals with his neighbours, so the Lord will deal with 
him. He was the first to make a boat and go a-fishing, 
and with the produce to feed the poor. He admonishes 
concerning the duty of forgiveness of injuries, and love 
and unity ; and he concludes by predicting the evils 
which dissension and unbelief will bring upon them, and 
which will only be terminated when the Lord, the light 
of righteousness, shall Himself appear among them, and 
he, Zebulon, should some day rise again. 


He had tried all his life long to avoid anger and 
lying, and to please God ; but was guilty of envy and 
malice in the case of Joseph. Let his sons beware of 
these sins, or they will bring on themselves destruction. 
In the last days, he knows that they will oppose Levi 
and Judah, and be grievously punished for it. But a 
time will come when from these tribes the salvation of 


the Lord will arise, and wage victorious war against 
Beliar ; and the saints shall rest in Eden, and the 
righteous shall rejoice in the new Jerusalem, which shall 
be unto the glory of God for ever and ever ! " Therefore 
draw ye nigh unto God and to the angel that intercedeth 
for you (TOO Trapairovfjuevw fyta?), for He is the Mediator 
between God and man for the peace of Israel." 


He was the son of Bilhah, daughter of Eutheus, 
brother of Deborah, Eebecca's nurse. Eutheus himself 
was a Chaldean of Abraham's kindred, a worshipper of 
God, who had been carried away as a captive and bought 
by Laban. Naphtali, being remarkably active, was his 
father's messenger. When forty years old he saw a 
vision on the Mount of Olives, towards the east of 
Jerusalem. The sun and moon stood still ; Isaac called 
his sons to run and seize them ; Levi laid hold of the 
sun, Judah of the moon, and both were raised aloft with 
them. Levi received twelve palm branches, Judah had 
twelve rays beneath his feet. Then appeared a bull 
with two horns, and on its back the wings of an eagle. 
All tried to seize it, but Joseph alone was successful, 
and was carried up on high. And the holy writing 
came in sight which spake of the captivity of Israel. 
In a second vision Naphtali sees Jacob and his sons 
standing by the Sea of Jamnia ; and, lo ! a ship appeared 
full of dried flesh, inscribed The Ship of Jacob, but with- 
out crew or pilot. Jacob and his sons embark, a tempest 
arises and carries away the father; the ship is almost 


engulphed, and finally dashed to pieces. Levi prays, 
and the twelve are saved on pieces of wreck, and, reach- 
ing home, find their father safe and sound. The usual 
prediction concerning the punishment of sinners and the 
advent of Messiah closes the Testament. 


He boasts of his courage in defending the flocks from 
wild beasts, and tells how he was incensed with Joseph 
for repeating to his father the evil deeds of the brethren, 
and desired his death. He and Juclah sold him for 
thirty pieces of gold, but kept ten for themselves, con- 
cealing the real amount received. He confesses his 
sorrow for this sin, and urges his children to beware of 
hatred and covetousness, on which subjects he dilates at 
considerable length. " For," he says, " as love wishes 
even to revive the dead, and to recall those who are 
sentenced to death ; so hatred would like to slay the 
living, and desires the destruction even of those who 
have but little erred. The spirit of hatred by reason of 
faintheartedness (o\i r yo"fyv%ia<;, ? hastiness of spirit) co- 
operateth with Satan in all things unto the death of 
men ; but the spirit of love co-operateth with the law of 
God unto men's salvation." As the other patriarchs, he 
enjoins his sons to honour Judah and Levi, because from 
them the Lord shall raise up a Saviour for Israel. 


He begins in much the same way as the DidacJU : 
" Two ways hath God given to the sons of men ; " and 


he proceeds in words which recall the dictum of Ben- 
Sira : l " All things are two, one over against the other. 
There are two ways, of good and evil, and withal two 
counsels in our breasts distinguishing these paths." He 
admonishes his sons to be single-minded, and not to 
wear two faces ; and he gives various examples of 
double - mindedness, and shows how hateful such a 
character is in God's eyes. He terminates his advice 
by uttering the warnings and predictions in the same 
strain as his predecessors. 


He recounts his life, summing it up at first almost 
in the words of the Gospel (Matt, xxv.) : " I was an 
hungered," etc., and then narrating the circumstances 
twice over at much length, with the addition of many 
legendary particulars. " See, then, my children," he 
continues, " how much may be effected by patience and 
prayer with fasting ; for God loveth sobriety, and always 
helpeth the continent and self-controlling." He tells of 
a vision which he saw. There arose in Judah a virgin, 
clad in a linen robe, and from her came forth a lamb 
unspotted, and on his left there was, as it were, a lion. 
Against him all the beasts of the earth contended, but 
prevailed nothing ; and the lamb trode them under foot, 
to the great joy of angels and men. " Do ye, my sons, 
observe the commandments of the Lord, and honour 
Judah and Levi, for from out of them shall arise the 

1 Ecclus. xlii. 24 : " All things are double, one against another, 
and He hath made nothing imperfect." 


Lamb of God, by grace saving all the nations and 


Benjamin tells that his mother liachel was twelve 
years barren, and then, fasting and praying for twelve 
days, she conceived, and in due time bore him ; and he 
was therefore called Benjamin, " son of days." x He 
gives much good advice concerning the direction of the 
thoughts, and simplicity of heart, and rectitude of 
conduct ; in the course of his admonition he recounts 
this prophecy of Jacob : " In thee shall be fulfilled the 
prophecy of heaven touching the Lamb of God and the 
Saviour of the world ; for He, the undefiled (a'^coyito?) 
shall be delivered up in behalf of sinners ; and He, the 
sinless (ava^dpT^ro^} shall die for the impious, by the 
blood of the covenant, for the salvation of Gentiles and 
Israel, and shall destroy Beliar and his servants." There 
is much that is beautiful and edifying in this Testament. 
Here is a thought with which we are all familiar, 
though we scarcely expected to meet with it here : 
" As the sun, shining on what is filthy and noxious, 
is not defiled thereby, but rather purifies it and removes 
its ill savour ; so the pure mind, mingling amid the 
pollutions of earth, dwelleth safely there and suffers no 

1 The name is usually explained as " Son of my right hand," i.e. of 
good fortune. The interpretation given in our text is that of the 
Samaritan copy, which has a different reading from the Masoretic. 
The expression would probably refer to his being born in Jacob's 
old age. 


Such, in brief, are the contents of our book. "We 
must glance at the writer or writers, and attempt to 
estimate the date of the production. 

Of course, in this, as in all such literature, the 
author's personality is veiled and unknown. But we 
can form an estimate of his views, and see to what sect 
or party he belonged. And here we must at once 
protest against the free use made by some critics of the 
theory of interpolation. 1 These scientists form certain 
opinions concerning the age, author, objects, tendencies 
of a work; and when any paragraph or expression 
coincides not with their conception, they arbitrarily put 
it aside as a later addition inserted by some unscrupulous 
scribe or editor. If the criminated passage were evidently 
foisted into the original text without any connection 
with the context, if it were plainly the work of some 
clumsy glosser, if it differed from the style of the rest of 
the document and contained language or ideas not found 
elsewhere, the theory of interpolation becomes reasonable. 
But where, as in the present case, none of these sup- 
positions can be verified, where the disputed paragraphs 
are in full keeping and tone with the rest of the work, 
and there is no substantial variation in MSS. or versions, 

1 If any one wishes to see this theory wantonly and largely 
developed, let him read Die Testamente der XII. Patriarchen unter- 
sucht von L. F. Schnapp (Halle 1884). This writer divides the greater 
part of the book between a Christian and a Jewish interpolator, 
relying entirely upon internal evidence for his conclusions. He 
regards as genuine only those parts of each Testament which 
contain biographical details and exhortations founded thereon ; all 
predictions, visions, etc., he determines to be later interpolations. 



the notion of unauthorised additions falls to the ground, 
and we may take the text as genuine without further 
disquieting ourselves about baseless criticism. At the 
same time it is, of course, possible, and, indeed, probable, 
that the work would exhibit traces of editing and 
revision, and that words or passages might have been 
inserted in the course of time by scribes or redactors. 
But these additions, if they do exist, would not affect 
the general tone of the book, and we found our view on 
this, and not upon isolated expressions. Now we gather 
from a careful perusal of the document that the writer 
was a Jewish Christian, of views not in all respects 
orthodox, addressing his own countrymen. To none 
other would the utterances of the patriarchs have been 
of any value or weight ; to none other would the future 
destiny of Israel have been of any importance. And 
the object which he had in view was the conversion of 
his auditors to Christianity. He desires to show how 
the old Law led up to this consummation, and how the 
evil times upon which his contemporaries had fallen 
were a discipline to drive them to acknowledge the true 
Messiah. He holds that the New Testament was always 
hidden in the old covenant, and existed in germ in the 
patriarchal dispensation, so that Christianity is merely 
a continuation and development of the more ancient 

There were, as is well known, two parties in the 
primitive Church who held opposite views upon the sub- 
ject of the duty of Christians with respect to the Jewish 
ceremonial law. While one would impose this routine 
on all Gentile converts as necessary to salvation, thus 


narrowing the merits of Christ's sacrifice and ignoring 
the new covenant, the other held that the Mosaic law 
was not of eternal obligation, and that Gentile converts 
must not be compelled to observe it. The former 
developed into Ebionites, the latter into Nazarenes. Of 
the heretical tendencies of the Ebionites there can be 
no question ; not only on the question of circumcision 
did they separate from the orthodox as represented by St. 
Paul, but more especially in regard to the person and 
nature of Christ. The Nazarenes, on the other hand, 
accepting and recognising the Pauline view of the duty 
of Gentile converts, and seeking to be themselves alto- 
gether Christians while retaining their own nationality, 
had a very imperfect conception of the eternal generation 
of Christ, dating the hypostasis of the Divine nature in 
Him either from His birth or His baptism. To this 
sect our author seems to have belonged, for in his 
utterances we can trace the opinions which have been 
mentioned, erroneous tenets on the nature of Christ, 
generous appreciation of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, 
faithful adherence to the old ritual, and liberal views 
with regard to converts from heathendom. It has been 
also remarked that there is much in the ethics of the 
book which corresponds with the known tenets of the 
Nazarenes. Thus it advocates voluntary fasting, abstin- 
ence from flesh and wine, not only in order to avoid 
temptation, but also as an atonement for past excesses ; 
it enjoins peaceableness, kindness to men and animals, 
benevolence, compassion, the avoidance of female seduc- 
tions ; it inveighs against covetousness, and sets a high 
value on poverty. All these points seem to suit the 


modified asceticism of the Nazarenes. It is asserted 
that no one author could have enunciated the views 
which are found in our book. No Jewish Christian, 
it is said, could ever have characterised the tribes of 
Levi and Judah as those which were to guide Israel, or 
exhorted his countrymen to submit to their authority ; 
while it is certain that official Judaism, represented by 
those tribes, was most active in rejecting the gospel. 
To this it may be answered that the author is thinking 
of Levi and Judah in their ideal character, not as 
they had exhibited themselves during later events. 
Christ as Priest, Christ as King, takes His descent from 
the two ; and it is the truth which this descent teaches 
that the writer wishes to enforce. 

Concerning the date when the book was written, we 
have certain facts to guide us. Being quoted by Tertul- 
lian and Origen, it must have been extant in the second 
century A.D. To the same conclusion we are led by the 
writer's evident acquaintance with the Book of Enoch, a 
great part of which, as we have determined in our account 
of that production, was probably composed in the age of 
John Hyrcanus, about 110 B.C. In the Testaments we 
find this work continually alluded to under the titles of 
" the writing (<ypa<f)tf) of Enoch ; " " the book, books, or 
words of Enoch the Eighteous," "the Scripture of the 
law of Enoch," and so forth ; and there are many expres- 
sions borrowed, and facts employed, without special 
acknowledgment. It is true that most of these citations 
are not now found in the book as it has come into our 
hands ; but that this work has been sadly mutilated, and 
originally contained much material no longer existing, is 


certain; and many of the passages which cannot be 
traced are probably rather appeals to the general tone 
and scope of the prophecy than actual quotations. But 
there are other criteria by which to judge of the age of 
our work. In it reference is made to the destruction 
of Jerusalem and the temple, 1 it was therefore written 
after A.D. 70. Also, according to the words of Benjamin 
(chap, xi.), the writings of the New Testament, especially 
the Acts and the Epistles of St. Paul, had been collected 
into a volume. At the same time, the Jewish priest- 
hood is spoken of as if still existing, which could not 
have been the case after Hadrian's demolition of Jeru- 
salem in punishment of the revolt of Bar-Cocheba, 
A.D. 135. We have therefore these limits between 
which our book could have been produced, A.D. 70-130 ; 
and we shall not be far wrong if we assign it to the 
end of the first or the earliest portion of the second 
Christian century. 

We have now to notice some points of interest which 
are found in our book touching on history, Christology, 
and doctrinal, critical, and ethical questions. And first, 
let us look to the historical element. Here, as in the 
Book of Jubilees, and generally in Haggadistic litera- 
ture, we meet with additions to, or amplifications of facts 
recorded in the Old Testament, some doubtless derived 
from tradition or from documents no longer extant, 
others which are owed to the inventive faculty of the 
writer. It is almost impossible in most cases to say 
where truth ends and fiction steps in ; the probability is 
that generally there is some ground for the detail added, 
1 Levi xv. ; Dan v. 


and that the author is dealing with material ready to his 
hand. In his chronology, and in no few of his legends, 
he is indebted to the Book of Jubilees and the Book 
of Enoch ; many of his statements have been repeated 
in the Targum, the Midrashhn, and Josephus, being 
obtained by them from independent sources. This is 
a further argument for the authenticity of our history. 

As additions to the Biblical record, we may note the 
following. The treacherous attack on the Shechemites 
at the hands of Simeon and Levi is justified by the 
violent conduct of these Canaanites in former time, when 
they persecuted Abraham, plundered his flocks, and even 
attempted to outrage Sarah ; l and by a special com- 
munication from heaven, which directed vengeance to 
be taken upon them. During Jacob's sojourn at Hebron 
he waged successful war with the Canaanites, Judah 
taking the foremost place, and performing prodigies of 
valour, his acts being related at some length. 2 Likewise 
many particulars are added in connection with Judah's 
marriage with the Hamite Shuah, and the episode with 
his daughter-in-law Tamar. Esau, who at first had 
peaceable relations with his brother, after an interval 
of eighteen years came against him with a large force ; 
but Jacob slew him ; and his sons attacked his chief 
city, and reduced the Edomites to tribute. Joseph's 
greatest enemy among his brethren was Simeon, who 
quarrelled with Judah for sparing his life ; and his 
envy was punished by the paralysis of his right hand, 

1 Levi v. and vi. 

* Judah iii. There is a similar account in the Book of Jubilees 


which was only healed on his repentance and prayers. 1 
Zebulun tells us that he felt deeply for Joseph but feared 
his brothers too much to attempt his deliverance, though 
he refused to share in the price of their crime. The evil 
report which Joseph brought to his father concerning the 
sons of Bilhah and Zilpah referred to their killing the 
best of the flock and eating them. 2 The story of 
Joseph's sojourn in Egypt is related at considerable 
length, the account being apparently derived from two 
distinct documents, not worked together into one nar- 
rative. The youth concealed his identity, pretending to 
1)6 a slave; but the Ishmaelites, who had bought him, 
were not content with this account of himself, and think- 
ing that he was the son of some great personage, detained 
him in the house of their agent till they should determine 
what should be done with him. While he was thus 
placed, Potiphar's wife happened to see him, and induced 
her husband to interfere in his behalf, and in the end 
purchased him as a slave, Joseph all the time quietly sub- 
mitting to be thus treated that he might not bring his 
brethren to shame. Potiphar, who is called apxifidyeipos, 
chief cook, entrusts his whole establishment to him, and 
greatly prospers. Then follows a detailed account of the 
seduction employed by his shameless mistress, and his 
chaste resistance to her words, caresses, and love potions. 
His wife Asenath, who brought him an enormous fortune 
as her dower, belonged to the same family as Potiphar. 3 

1 Simeon ii. 2 Gad i. ; Gen. xxxvii. 2. 

3 With the view of saving Joseph from the imputation that he 
intermarried with an alien race, the -Targum, Ps. Jon. on Gen. 
xli. 45, makes Asenath the daughter of Dinah by Shechem. Sinker, 
p. 77. 


It is especially noted that all the patriarchs were 
buried in the cave of Machpelah, the bodies of many of 
them being previously placed in coffins. The trans- 
mission of these bodies to Hebron was conducted with 
much secrecy, as the Egyptians kept careful watch over 
the corpse of Joseph, it having been predicted that the 
removal of his bones would be accompanied with signal 
plagues on the land and people. The opportunity for 
the undisturbed conveyance of the patriarch's remains 
to Canaan was afforded by the attention of the natives 
being occupied by certain warlike operations in which 
they were engaged. 

Such are the chief additions to the Biblical narrative 
found in our book. Of the elaborate chronological 
details we cannot speak at length. These regard generally 
the dates of the births of the several patriarchs and the 
chief events in their lives ; they are based almost wholly 
on the Book of Jubilees, and differ scarcely in any parti- 
culars from the statements in that work, though they 
give some few facts not found therein, e.g. the marriages 
and deaths of the patriarchs. 

The writer's views on the nature and person of Christ 
are to be gathered rather from incidental statements 
than found definitely expressed in formal enunciations of 
dogma. In the absence of any authoritative creed, con- 
taining definitions and limitations and doctrinal pro- 
nouncements, an early writer, producing a treatise for 
popular use, was not constrained to put forward his 
opinions with logical precision, or to formulate a system 
of theology. Hence we find a certain haziness in our 
author's conception on this great subject, and it is some- 


what difficult to arrive at his real sentiments. His ideas 
concerning the Messiah are, of course, essentially Jewish, 
and differ considerably from what we have learned to 
consider the orthodox Christian tenet. The straight- 
forward simplicity of the Mcene doctrine is unknown to 
him, and he fluctuates between the notions of Christ as 
Divine and Christ as sanctified man, at one time regarding 
Him as God incarnate, at another seeming to speak of 
Him as human and nothing more. The passages which 
bear on the latter assumption are only three in number, 
and are these : in the Testament of Levi (chap, xvi.) we 
read, " the man who reneweth (avSpa avafcaivoTroiovvTo) 
the law in the power of the Most High ye shall call 
Deceiver, and at last, as ye think, ye shall kill Him, not 
knowing His resurrection (avdo-rrj^d), wickedly taking 
the innocent blood upon your heads. On account of Him 
your holy places shall be desolate." Judah, borrowing 
his language from Balaam's prophecy, proclaims (chap, 
xx iv.) : " After these things a star shall arise to you from 
Jacob in peace, and a man (avQpcaTros) shall stand 
up from my seed, as a sun of righteousness, walking 
with the sons of men in meekness and righteousness, and 
no sin shall be found in Him." Naphtali warns his 
children of the fate that shall befall their descendants in 
punishment of their transgressions (chap, iv.) : " The Lord 
shall scatter them over the face of all the earth, until the 
compassion of the Lord ((nr\d<yicvov Kvplov) shall come, 
even a man (avOpcoTros) working righteousness, and 
showing mercy unto all those that are far off and those 
that are near." These passages regard purely the human 
nature of Christ, and taken by themselves might show 


that the writer did not believe in His Divinity. But 
other expressions modify this conclusion. Thus the 
passage above quoted from Judah proceeds : " The 
heavens shall be opened upon Him to pour forth the 
spirit and blessing of the holy Father ; and He Himself 
shall pour forth upon you the spirit of grace. . . . This 
is the scion (/SXacrro?) of the Most High God, and this is 
the fountain unto life of all flesh." Levi (chap, xviii.) 
refers to the baptism of Messiah in these words : " The 
heavens shall be opened, and from the temple of glory 
shall come upon Him consecration (a^iaa-pa) with the 
voice of the Father (at. of the Spirit), as from Abraham, 
father of Isaac." This is explained 1 to mean that the 
relation of Christ to the Father is as close as that of a 
human son to his father. But the expression is obscure. 
We have, however, much more definite statements to pro- 
duce. The pre-existence of the Messiah is fully allowed. 
Before He comes to perform His special work on earth 
He is called the Angel that intercedes for Israel, a 
mediator between God and man. 2 This is probably a 
term derived from the Old Testament idea of the Angel 
of Jehovah, or the Angel of the Presence, who adum- 
brated Christ. Benjamin (chap, ix.) speaks of Him as 
the " Only-begotten ; " Levi (chap, iv.), as " Son of the 
Lord ; " Simeon tells (chap, vi.) how " the Lord, the great 
God of Israel, shall appear upon the earth as man, 3 and 
shall save man (Adam) in Him." ..." Then," he adds, 

1 By Dorner (i. 156), quoted by Sinker, p. 93. 

2 Dan chap. vi. ; Lev. ii.-v. 

3 The words u$ olvSpuTros occur in all the MSS. except the Oxford, 
which, as Mr. Sinker opines, has a tendency to omit words. 


" I shall arise in gladness, and shall bless the Highest 
for His marvellous works, because God having 
taken a body, and eating with men, saved man ; " 
and he proceeds (chap, vii.) : " Do not lift up your- 
selves against Levi and Judah, for from them shall 
arise unto you the salvation of God. For the Lord 
shall raise up from Levi as it were a Priest, and from 
Judah as it were a King, God [and Man. Thus shall 
He save all the nations and the race of Israel." In 
another place Levi appears to enunciate the heresy of 
Patripassianism, with which the Nazarenes were more or 
less infected. " Now, know ye that the Lord will take 
vengeance on the sons of men, because, when the rocks 
were rent, and the sun quenched, and the waters dried 
up, and fire cowered, and all creation was confounded 
... at the passion of the Most High, men unbelieving 
continued in their iniquities." l Judah (chap, xxii.) 
speaks thus : " The Lord shall bring upon them dis- 
sensions one with another, and there shall be in Israel 
continual wars, and among the Gentiles shall my king- 
dom be accomplished, until the salvation of Israel shall 
have come, until the appearing (eW Trapovcrias) of the 
God of Eighteousness to give rest in peace to Jacob and 
all the nations." From certain expressions in the 
Testament of Zebulun we should gather the writer's 
opinions to be that the man Christ was deified by union 
with the Godhead, a modified form of the Cerinthian 
heresy. We read (chap, ix.) : " Ye shall see God in the 
form of man, whom the Lord shall choose ; Jerusalem is 

1 Levi iv. This is one of the passages supposed to be an interpola- 
tion ; but there is no sufficient ground for the supposition. 


His name." l In many other places it is stated that God, 
the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, shall dwell among men, 
and be worshipped, and shall judge the nations. 2 Not to 
multiply examples to the same effect, we must infer that 
the author himself held somewhat indistinct views con- 
cerning the two natures of Christ and His relation to 
God, at one time identifying Him with God, at another 
plainly distinguishing Him from God. From two para- 
graphs which refer to Christ's baptism, 3 it would seem 
that it was not till that event that the man Christ 
became participant of the indwelling of God in the 
highest sense. That He was to be born of a virgin we 
have seen in our quotation from the Testament of Joseph, 
where the linen robe in 'which she is dressed implies a 
connection with the priesthood. 4 And His spotless 
character is gathered from the epithets which occur in 
the Testaments, e.g. guiltless, sinless, true, long-suffering, 
gentle, lowly. Schnapp, followed by Schlirer and others, 
would regard all such passages as Christian interpolations 
foisted into a Jewish work ; and, of course, such a theory 
would explain their appearance in the places where they 
are found. But the opinion which we have adopted 

1 Tliis last expression is peculiar, and is varied in the MSS. Mr. 
Sinker's text is that of the Cambridge, with which the Eoman 
agrees. The Patmos MS. has " in Jerusalem, for His name's sake ; " 
the Oxford gives the same. The rendering of Grabe is : " Quoniam 
elegit Deus Hierusalem, nomen Deus ei." Probably the text is 

2 Dan v. ; Napthali viii. ; Aslier vii. ; Benjamin x. 

3 Levi.xviii. ; Judah xxiv. 

4 Mr. Sinker appositely quotes the Apocryphal Gospels in illustra- 
tion of the tendency to associate the priestly tribe with the royalty of 
Messiah through the Virgin Mary. 


equally well accounts for such paragraphs ; and the large 
extent of these Christian passages makes the opposite 
theory unlikely and difficult of acceptance. It may also 
be said that a later Christian would have had more 
definite views than those intimated herein. 

The view taken of the office of Messiah is indi- 
cated by the continual reference to His origin from the 
tribes of Levi and Judah. He is Priest as well as 
King, and under the former aspect is supreme. But 
little is said of His death, and its connection with the 
Priesthood of Messiah is ignored; the teaching of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews has not been studied, and we are 
not told that Christ, by His own blood, hath entered 
once for all into the holy places, having obtained eternal 
redemption for men. But it is believed that sins are 
blotted out through the priesthood, though how this is 
exercised is not distinctly stated. As King, Messiah wars 
against evil, and crushes the power of Beliar; and this 
victory shall be finally accomplished when Israel has 
learned the lesson of faith. Of Christ's ascension and 
session in heaven some little is said ; but of His return to 
judgment nothing definite can be found expressed. The 
author certainly holds that the just shall rise again, and 
be rewarded for all their sufferings on earth, and share in 
Messiah's kingdom ; but he is very indistinct concerning 
the fate of the wicked, and has nothing to say of 
Messiah's part as Judge. 

The indefiniteness of the writer appears conspicuously 
in the view which He takes of the Holy Spirit. No- 
where is He spoken of as God. He is called the Spirit 
of Sanctification, the Spirit of Understanding, and He is 


said to rest on Messiah ; but no hint of His equality with 
the Father and the Son is given. Nor can we discover 
that our author believed in His distinct personality ; but 
he seems to have regarded Him merely as an operation 
or manifestation of the Godhead. 

For the criticism of the New Testament the book 
affords some assistance, as it contains quotations or 
allusions which show familiarity with most of our early 
Christian documents. Eeferences to the writings of St. 
John are not infrequent. Thus Dan (chap, xiv.) speaks of 
" the light of the world, which was given among you for 
the enlightenment of every man/' which recalls chap. i. 
9 and viii. 1 2 ; Benjamin (chap, iii.) and Joseph (chap, 
xix.) call the Saviour of the world " the Lamb of God." l 
Issachar (chap, vii.) has the phrase, " a sin unto death." 2 
Levi (chap, xviii.) says that Messiah " shall give unto the 
saints to eat of the tree of life ; " Dan (chap, v.) makes 
mention of " the new Jerusalem." 3 Traces of acquaint- 
ance with most of the other books of the New Testament 
may be found scattered throughout the work. Levi 
(chap, xviii.) tells of the Father's voice that came upon 
Christ in the water, 4 and of Him " who should redeem 
Israel." 5 We have allusions to the holy books, and the 
work and word of Paul, 6 which would imply that the 
Acts and Pauline Epistles were known to the writer. 
" The Spirit of God," says Benjamin (chap, ix.), " shall 
come upon the Gentiles, as fire poured forth." 7 Eeuben 

1 John i. 29, 36. 2 1 John v. 16, 17. 

3 Rev. ii. 7, xxi. 2. 4 Matt iii. 16, 17. 

5 Luke xxiv. 21. 6 Benjamin chap. xi. 7 Acts ii. 3. 


(chap, v.) admonishes, like St. Paul and St. Peter, " Flee 
fornication ; and bid your women not to adorn their heads 
and faces." * Levi (chap, vi.) repeats St. Paul's difficult 
phrase in 1 Thess. ii. 16: " The wrath of God is come 
upon them to the uttermost," e^daaev eV avrovs . . . efc 
re\o9. " The God of peace," and " God in the form of 
man," are Pauline terms. 2 Levi (chap, x.) and Benjamin 
(chap, xi.) adopt this phrase, " the consummation of the 
ages," from Heb. ix. 26. 3 As bearing on the canonicity 
of disputed books, we may add that Keuben's (chap, v.) 
utterance, that the woman who is a deceiver " is reserved 
unto eternal punishment," seems to be a quotation from 
2 Pet. ii. 4, 9 and Jude 6. 

In De la Bigne's Magna Bibliotlicca, where Grosseteste's 
Latin version is printed, the following verdict concerning 
our book is given : " Liber hie apocryphus est pseudepi- 
graphus, fabulosus et indignus plane qui legatur ; multa 
enim continet partim erronea, partim vana et mendacia, 
nullo auctore aut fundamento subnixa, quse facile lector 
et discernet et repudiabit." A careful student of the 
work would not nowadays assent to this conclusion. 
Far from being unworthy of perusal, it may justly claim 
the most attentive consideration, as the product of an 
important era too little understood, and embodying the 
views of a party which has left the scantiest literature. 
Whether it was composed at Pella, as Mr. Sinker 
supposes, we have no ground for deciding; but that it 

1 1 Cor. vi. 18 ; 1 Pet. iii. 3. 

2 2 Cor. xii. 11, Phil. ii. 7, compared with Dan chap. v. and 
Zebulun chap. ix. 

ruv cclavuv. See a full collection of these coincidences 
in Mr. Sinker's Index II. 


emanated from a Nazarene, at a time when dogma was 
still fluctuating and no authoritative decree had fixed the 
truth on doubtful questions, is obvious. We have here a 
glimpse of early Christian doctrine and ethics which is 
almost unique. The large-minded utterances of the 
Patriarchs are very notable. The author has accepted 
the Messiah as He really appeared, though His guise was 
far different from what was expected : and he aims at 
making his unbelieving countrymen see with his eyes, 
and recognise in the Jesus whom they slew the Messiah 
long promised and foretold, who should bring salvation, 
not to the Jews only, but to those who were far off, even 
unto the ends of the earth. 




THE Book of Jubilees, or the Little Genesis, is mentioned 
by name continually in the writings of the early Fathers, 
and by a succession of authors reaching to Theodorus 
Metochita (A.D. 1332). Allusions to information con- 
tained therein, without actual naming of the origin of 
the statements, are very numerous,- particularly in the 
Byzantine chroniclers, so that the work was well and 
widely known up to the middle of the fourteenth 
century ; but from that time the original has been 
entirely lost. For four hundred years nothing but a 
few scattered fragments was known to exist. The age, 
however, which witnessed the rediscovery of " The 
Assumption of Moses " has been gratified by the re- 
appearance of the Book of Jubilees. Dr. Krapff, an 
African missionary, found the book in Abyssinia, had 
it transcribed, and sent the manuscript to the University 
Library in Tubingen. The work was an Ethiopian 
version of the original, complete, indeed, in one sense, 
but full of errors, and not a trustworthy representation 



of the original. It was translated by Dillmann in 
Ewald's Jahrlucher, ii. and in., with an appendix con- 
taining discussions on the main points of interest. 
With the aid of another MS., Dillmann published the 
Ethiopian text in 1859. 1 Some further fragments of 
two old Latin translations have been set forth by Ceriani 
and Ronsch, 2 and these with the Ethiopic text enable us 
to give a satisfactory account of this curious and long- 
lost work. Previously to the appearance of these pub- 
lications, students who desired to know anything about 
the book had to refer to Fabricius' Codex. Pseudep. V. T., 
wherein were collected such fragments as had been pre- 
served by Jerome and other early writers. Some years 
later, A. Treuenfels 3 added a few other passages dis- 
covered by himself, comparing them with the Jewish 
Midrashim, the correspondence with which he was the 
first to proclaim. But these fragments gave a very 
inadequate impression of the contents of the Parva 
Genesis, and the announcement in 1844 of the existence 

1 Kufale, sive Liber Jubilseorum . . . nuper ex Abyssinia in 
Europam allatus. .^Ethiopice ad duorum librorum MSS. fidem 
primum ed. Dr. Aug. Dillmann (Kilias et Londini 1859). 

2 Ceriani, Monumenta sacra et profana ex codd. prcesertim Biblioth. 
Ambrosiance, Mediol. 1861, Tom. i. Fasc. i. Ronsch, Das Buck der 
Jubilden oder die Tdeine Genesis (Leipz. 1874). 

3 "Die kleine Genesis," in Literaturbl. d. Orients, 1846, Nos. 1-6. 
Other works on the subject are these : A. Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch, 
Th. 1-3 (Leipz. 1853-1855). B. Beer, Das Buck der Jubil. u. sein 
VerJidltniss zu den Midraschim (Leipz. 1856) ; and Noch ein Wort 
iiber d. B, d. Jub. (Leipz. 1857). Frankel in Monatsschrift f. Gesch. 
des Judenthums, 1856, 1857. Two treatises by Dillmann ; Krtiger, 
"Die Chronol. im Buch der Jubil.," in Zeitschr. 1858. Rubin, Das 
Buck der Jubil. 1870. Ginsburg in Kitto's Cyclopced. There is a 
translation "by Schodde in Bibliotheca sacra, 1885. 


of a complete copy was hailed with delight by the learned 

Some difficulty had occurred in earlier investigations 
in fixing the identity of the book from which the 
citations were made, owing to the different appellations 
under which it was known, or by which reference was 
made to it. The oldest reference, that in Epiphanius, 1 
calls it " Jubilees," or the " Book of Jubilees," a very 
fitting designation of a treatise which divided the history 
of which it treated into periods of Jubilees, i.e. of forty- 
nine years, the author, in his strong partiality for the 
number seven, departing from the Mosaic principle 
which counted the fiftieth as the year of release (Lev. 
xxv. 10). Epiphanius and many others also name it 
the " Little Genesis," Microgenesis, Leptogenesis, or ra 
\67TTa rWo-e&>9 the minutiaB of Genesis 2 appellations 
appropriate to it, not as being less in bulk than the 
scriptural record, but as giving particulars of name, date, 
and other "small matters" not found in the canonical 
book, or because it divides the history into small periods. 
Other references are current which probably, though 
not with certainty, appertain to this book. Thus Syn- 
cellus 3 more than once alludes to " what is called the 
Life of Adam," quoting from it passages which occur in 
the " Jubilees," so that , it seems likely that the work 
which he names is merely a portion of the latter. The 
same is also true of the " Book of Adam's Daughters," 

1 Hceres. xxxix. : a; \v rolg 'I^j/3>j>ot/o;f tvpiyxsTxi) ry x.ccl 

(al. hfTTTO'/ivi'TSl) KOthOV/XSVy. 

2 Hieron. Ep. 127, Ad Fabiol. Syncell. Chronogr. p. 3. 

3 Chronogr. pp. 7-9 : 6 Asyo^gz/oj fifo; ' 


mentioned in a decree of Pope Gelasius. 1 The title 
"Apocalypse of Moses," Syncellus himself applies to 
" Little Genesis." 2 In the Ambrosian MS. our book is 
followed immediately by the " Assumption of Moses," as 
though this formed an appendix to the former ; and in 
the catalogues of Pseudo-Athanasius and Nicephorus, 
the "Testament (AiaOi]Kr[) of Moses" directly precedes 
the " Assumption ; " so that it is not unlikely that 
the " Testament of Moses " is merely another name for 
the " Book of Jubilees." The Abyssinian Church names 
it the " Book of the Division of Days," from the first 
words of the inscription at the beginning. 

The original language of the book is without doubt 
Hebrew or Aramaic. Many expressions in the version 
are unintelligible without reference to this text ; Hebrew 
or Aramaic etymologies of proper names are given ; and 
we have Jerome's express statement 3 that certain Hebrew 

1 Mansi, Cone. viii. 167, where, according to Ronsch, p. 478, the 
correct reading is : " Liber de filiabus Adag, hoc est Leptogenesis." 
This, at any rate, proves that the book was known in the West, 
which, indeed, the fact of the existence of a Latin version would also 

2 P. 4 : fa KOU Mwt/ffgwf ilvoti Qotai Ttvsg diroxu'hvij/iv. So, p. 49, a 
little before, Syncellus refers the clause in Gal. vi. 15 : " Neither 
circumcision availeth anything," etc., to the " Revelation of Moses." 
Tischendorf in his critical note writes : " Item Syncell. teste Gb., 
sed ignore locum." The clause in question is not found in our 
present text of " Jubilees ; " but as this is confessedly very imperfect, 
the omission proves nothing. 

3 Ep. 127, Ad Fabiol. : "Hoc verbum plD"), Num. xxxiii. 21], 

quantum memoria suggerit, nusquam alibi in Scripturis sanctis apud 
Hebrseos invenisse me novi absque libro apocrypho qui a Graecis 
M/fcjcoyfi/fff/,' appellatur. Ibi in sedificatione turris pro stadio ponitur 
in quo exercentur pugiles et athletse et cursorum velocitas compro- 
batur." The passage referred to is lost in the Ethiopic version. 


words on which he is commenting are found in what he 
calls " Microgenesis." The wives of the Sethites are 
called by names which are expressive of beauty or virtue 
in Hebrew. That Seth married Azurah, restrain ; Jared, 
Beracha, Ucssiny ; Enoch, Adni, pleasure; while Cain 
married his sister Avan, vice. There are also numerous 
passages wherein our book agrees with the Hebrew in 
opposition to the Septuagint, 1 and some where it follows 
an independent Hebrew original. The present Ethiopia 
version, however, was made from a Greek and not a 
Hebrew original. This fact, which the history of other 
Abyssinian literature made antecedently probable, is con- 
firmed by the introduction of Greek words into the text, 
e.g. Spvs, /SaXaro?, Xn/r, (frdpayj;, etc. Thus, too, we have 
the Septuagintal forms, Mambrim for Mamre, Geraron 
for Gerar, Kiriath Arbok for Kirjath-Arba, Aunan for 

Jerome again appeals to our book in the same Epistle, Mansio, 24 : 
"Hoc eodem vocabulo [mn, Num. xxxiii. 27] et iisdem literis 

scriptum invenio patrem Abraham, qui in supradicto apocrypho 
Geneseos volumine abactis corvis, qui hominum frumenta vastabant, 
abactoris vel depulsoris sortitus est nomen." 

1 E.g. Gen. xlv. 22: "Three hundred pieces of silver;" Sept. 
"gold." iii. 17: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake;" Sept. "in 
thy works." xv. 11 : "And when the fowls came down upon the 
carcases, Abram drove them away ; " Sept. " sat among them." xxxvii. 
29 : " Let thy mother's sons bow down to thee ; " Sept. " thy father's." 
On the other hand, some passages agree with the Greek version and 
not with the Hebrew. Thus Jubil. chap. xxiv. : " And the servants 
of Isaac digged yet another well and found no water ; and they went 
and told Isaac that they had found no water." The Hebrew of Gen. 
xxvi. 32 is : " We have found water ; " but the LXX. give ovx svpo^tv 
v$up. The introduction of Cainan as son of Arphaxad (chap, viii.) 
is supported by the Sept. but not by the Hebrew, and is further 
warranted to be original by the comparison of the number of created 
works, viz. twenty-two, with the number of the patriarchs from 


Aner (Gen. xiv. 24), Heliopolis for On, Gesem for Goshen. 
On the other hand, if the old Latin may be supposed to 
have been translated directly from the Hebrew, 1 containing 
as it does many grammatical forms or phrases peculiar to 
that language, which would hardly have escaped alteration 
in passing through Greek into Latin, yet the translator 
seems to have been well acquainted with the work of the 
Seventy, and to have referred to this version in rendering 
his original. 

As to the date of the composition, nothing can with 
certainty be determined. The author was well acquainted 
with and refers to some sections of the Book of Enoch, 
and has adopted many of its glosses on Old Testament 
history. 2 Thus, as Ewald and Schiirer note, it is said of 
Enoch that " he wrote in a book the signs of heaven in 
the order of their months, in order that the children of 

Adam to Jacob, who amount to twenty-two only by including this 
Cainan. See Frankel, v. p. 345. And some few differ from both. 
Thus Gen. xiii. 14 (Heb. and Sept.) : " North, south, east, west ; " 
Jubil. " West, south, east, north " (according to the Latin version). 
Gen. xxviii. 5 : " The mother of Jacob and Esau ; " Jubil. " mother 
of Jacob." After Gen. xxx. 28, Laban says : " Kemain with me for 
wages, and feed my flocks again, and take thy wages," which has 
no exact counterpart in Heb. or Sept. For Gen. xxxiii. 18, where 
Heb. and Sept. coincide, Jubil. gives : " And Jacob moved further 
and dwelt towards the north in Magd Ladra Ephrathah." In the 
honour paid to Joseph, Gen. xli. 43, it is proclaimed before him, 
"El el Waabrir," in the Latin, "Elel et Haboid," or "El el et abior." 
From these variations it is natural to conclude that the writer used 
a text differing materially from the Masoretic recension. 

1 For the grounds for this statement see Rb'nsch, 15, where the 
opinions >on both sides are presented, the writer himself concluding 
that the Latin translator had before him the Greek rather than the 
Hebrew text. 

2 See JubiL chap. iv. ; Jahrb. ii. pp. 240, 241. 


men might know the seasons of the year, according to 
the order of the various months. . . . He saw in his 
dream the past and the future, what was going to happen 
to the sons of the children of men in their generations 
one after another down to the day of judgment. All 
this he saw and knew, and wrote it down as a testimony, 
and left it on the earth as a testimony for all the sons of 
the children of men, and for their generations." This is 
quite a correct account of the contents of part of the 
Book of Enoch as it has come down to us. On the 
other hand, he himself has been known to, and probably 
quoted by, the writer of the " Testaments of the Twelve 
Patriarchs." There are many verbal parallelisms or 
plagiarisms which have been noted by Ronsch and 
others ; there are also some details which may be de- 
rived from the same source. The account of Reuben's 
crime agrees with the narrative in the Jubilees. Other 
matters are, Levi's dream concerning the priesthood, and 
the favour which the Lord should shower upon him ; the 
names of the wives of Levi and Judah ; the war against 
the Canaanite kings ; Zebulon's prediction of Israel's 
apostasy ; Joseph's temptations, which are plainly an 
imitation of Abraham's. In these and many other 
passages the Testaments reproduce the facts of the 
Jubilees. In the chronology also there is remarkable 
similarity. Now, if this connection is established, as 
Ronsch and others 1 have with tolerable certainty demon- 
strated, we have at once a limitation of the period during 
which Leptogenesis was composed, and may assign it to 

1 Ronsch, 11; and Dillmann, Jahrb. Hi. p. 91 if.; Sinker, Test. 
of the Twelve Patriarchs, pp. 41 if. 


some date between B.C. 100 and A.D. 100. But further 
limitation is possible. The author appears to have used 
the Second Book of Esdras, the genuine portions of 
which are attributed to the age immediately preceding 
the Christian era. Whether the writers of the New 
Testament were conversant with the Book of Jubilees is 
a question which we cannot here discuss. Certainly 
there are many points in the Angelology and Demon- 
ology of both which afford a striking similarity, and many 
expressions which are analogous or identical ; l but we 
will found no argument upon this. Some have traced an 
intentionally antichristian spirit in the work, and have 
thence inferred that it was produced some few years 
after the death of our Lord. We must at any rate date 
it before the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. The 
seer speaks (chap, i.) of the Lord dwelling for ever in 
Zion, of the temple lasting to all time, and its holiness 
enduring to all eternity. Like Enoch (chap. Ivi.), he 
makes Jerusalem the centre of the earth and the seat of 
sovereignty. Such expressions could not have been 
used by one who had witnessed the overthrow of the 
sacred city at the hands of the Eomans. The great 
stress laid on the duty of sacrifice and of making the legal 
offerings points to the same conclusion. The writer 
must have had in his view a regular ritual, and a temple 
wherein sacrifices were then offered, which, as he ex- 

1 Thus : Abraham is inscribed in the heavenly tables as " a friend 
of the Lord," chap. xix. Cf. Jas. ii. 23. Noah, chap, vii., is said to 
have taught his sons and grandsons all God's commandments and the 
way of righteousness. Cf. 2 Pet. ii. 5 ; and the fate of the evil angels 
in ver. 4 ; and the giving of the Law through the medium of angels, 
Acts vii. 53 ; Gal. iii. 19 ; Heb. ii. 2. 


pressly says (chap, xxxii.), were to continue to the end 
of the world. We may therefore from the above con- 
siderations conclude that the Look was composed about 
the middle of the first Christian century. 

That Palestine was the abode of the author may be 
justly inferred from the language in which the work 
was originally written. The few striking cases, where 
apparently the wording of the Septuagint has been 
adopted, must be attributed to the translator, as the 
well-known animosity against the Greek version exhibited 
by the Palestinian Jews precludes the possibility of the 
author himself employing it in writing his history. The 
angel of the vision orders Abram to transcribe the 
Hebrew books, and to teach that language to his de- 
scendants (chap, xii.) an injunction which, understood 
as the author intended, could be carried out in no- 
foreign land, but only in Palestine, the home of " Adam's 
primitive language." Joseph speaks Hebrew when he 
makes himself known to his brethren. The stress laid 
upon complete separation from the heathen, and the 
necessity of holding aloof from all communication with 
exterior peoples, would have been absurd if addressed to 
any but dwellers in the promised land ; and although 
attempts have been made to show that the writer was a 
priest of the temple of Leontopolis, in Egypt, the 
evidence for this theory is feeble, and the argument 
is based on assumptions which are unproved, There are 
indeed certain intimations that the author followed some- 
times a different tradition from that which obtained 
among the Jews of Palestine, as where he enjoins that 
the first -fruits of a tree in its fourth year should be 


brought to the altar, and that the remainder should be 
eaten by the ministers of the Lord before the altar 
(chap, vii.) ; whereas, according to the Palestinian Halacha, 
the fruit belonged to the owner of the tree absolutely, 
who was bound to consume it in Jerusalem. 1 And 
hence arises one of the arguments for the theory that 
the work was composed in Egypt ; but we have no proof 
that any of the traditions adopted by the author were 
-especially of Egyptian origin ; nor is it probable that a 
Hebrew treatise would emanate from that country. The 
Jews in Egypt, if we may believe the translator of 
Ecclesiasticus, had not maintained the knowledge of 
their ancient tongue ; and the writings of Philo, the 
Book of Wisdom, and other works of that era, lead to 
the same conclusion. 

The author is certainly a Jew. The careful descrip- 
tion of the Sabbath and the festivals, with their cere- 
monies and rabbinical observances, and the heavenly 
authority attributed to them, could have emanated from 
none but a Hebrew of the Hebrews. To the same con- 
clusion points the elevated position ascribed to the nation 
of Israel. There is no Christian sentiment or opinion in 
the book, not even a reference to a personal Messiah. 2 

1 See Frankel, Monatsschr. v. 384 ff. ; Beer, Das Buck. d. JuUL and 
Noch ein Wort. 

2 Frankel (Monatsschr. v. 314) has detected a Christian influence 
in the wording of some passages ; but the examples given are very 
far from being decisive. Thus in blessing Judah, Isaac says : " Be 
thou lord, thou and one of thy sons, over the sons of Jacob," where 
nothing more than the supremacy of Judah is necessarily implied. 
"I will send them witnesses," says the Lord to Moses (chap, i.), "and 
my witnesses they will slay." Here, it is said, is plainly introduced 
the Christian word ftxpTvpts, where a Jew would have written " pro- 


The only passage that can be supposed to have a Mes- 
sianic meaning is one referring to Abraham's seed 
(chap, xvi.) : " From him would come the plant of 
righteousness for the generation of eternity ; from him 
should also come the holy seed like him who had made 
all things " (Schodde). But this is too vague to form 
the basis of any notion of Christian feeling in our book. 
Equally free . is it from Alexandrian philosophy. The 
author never allegorises. He expands, explains, particu- 
larises the scriptural accounts, but does not see in them 
types or figures of moral truths, and founds on them no 
philosophical speculations. He seems to stand between 
the apocryphal writers of the Old Testament and the 
composers of those pseudepigraphic books which were 
produced in early Christian times, as the Testaments of 
the Twelve Patriarchs and the Ascension of Isaiah. The 
teaching concerning angels and demons differs consider- 
ably from that which obtains, e.g., in the Book of Enoch, 
and appears to be less developed and complete. From 
the reverence shown to the number seven and the 
marked importance attributed to the feast of the Sabbath, 
some have assigned the writer to the sect of Essenes ; l 
but the grounds of this opinion are of little weight, more 
especially as there is no mention of the washings and 
purifications which were an essential feature of this sect. 
Nor can the writer be a Samaritan, for, in speaking of 

phets," as 2 Chron. xxxvi. 15, 16. But such expressions may fairly 
be laid to the account of the Ethiopian translator. Ronsch has en- 
deavoured to show that the author levied some of his statements 
directly against Christian practices and doctrines : his arguments are 
to my mind inconclusive. 

1 See Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch. 


the four places favoured by God in all the earth, he 
names Eden, Sinai, Zion, and the mountain of the east r 
but not Gerizim. That he was not a Sadducee is proved 
by his belief in angels and the immortality of the soul. 
We must be satisfied with conjecturing that he was a 
Pharisee of the dominant type, a man of learning, well 
read in Scripture, well acquainted with myth and legend, 
and belonging probably to the body of scribes. Many 
apocalyptic writers have, with more or less fulness, 
narrated the history of the Jewish nation from the 
earliest times unto their own ; but the method pursued 
by our author is, as far as we know, peculiar to himself,, 
and can have been invented only by one who was not 
merely conversant with the sacred text and the traditions 
connected with it, oral or written, but was capable of 
taking a comprehensive view of a great subject, and had 
the desire of expressing some personal views of his own, 
and of effecting important reforms in the observances of 
his co-religionists. 

The form of the book is peculiar. Professing to give 
a history of the world from the creation to the settle- 
ment in Canaan, it breaks up this period into divisions 
of Jubilees, and arranges all the facts narrated in the 
scriptural accounts into these segments of time. In 
order to confer on his new matter the same authority 
which Scripture possessed, the writer introduces Moses- 
as receiving this revelation of past and future from an 
angel of the Presence, while he tarried on Mount Sinai 
in the first year of the Exodus. This system of chron- 
ology is supposed to be a direct Apocalypse ; it had not 
its origin in the days of Moses, but was known long 


before to the patriarchs, partly by tradition, partly by 
direct communication from God, and was a portion of 
the original design of God which He purposed from the 
creation. So the jubilee-reckoning is a heavenly system : 
all the history of God's people falls into this form, and 
Moses could not have known it had it not been revealed 
to him by the Lord. Thus the author presents his work 
stamped with the highest sanction, and at once disarms 
prejudice and wins assent by assuming Divine authority 
for his statements. " Moses was in the mount forty 
days and forty nights, and the Lord taught him of the 
past and the future ; He declared unto him the division 
of the days and the law and the testimony, and bade 
him write it in a book, that his posterity might know it 
and be warned against breaking the commandments of 
the Lord. And the Angel of the Presence, who went 
before the camp of Israel, wrote out the revelation for 
Moses, and took the heavenly tables which contained the 
account of jubilees and weeks and days and seasons, and 
told him all that follows " (chap. i.). Thence to the end 
of the book we have history poured into this mould, the 
earlier part being made consistent by transferring to 
patriarchal times feasts and observances of later date. 
The events are treated with much freedom, and illus- 
trated by amplification and tradition, so that the whole 
deserves the appellation which has been affixed to it, " a 
Haggadistic Commentary on the Book of Genesis." * 

We proceed to give some specimens of the treatment 
of Biblical stories herein, premising that many of the 
additions and explanations may be found in other 
1 Dr. Bissel in Lange's Comment, on the Apocrypha, p. 670. 


apocryphal works as well as in the Talmud and Midra- 
shim, while others are peculiar to the author, and have no 
existence in other treatises. We will for a moment omit 
chronological matters, with which our book is greatly 
concerned, and confine our attention to other points. 
Some have hoped to find herein grounds for revision of 
the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch ; and certainly there 
are passages which seem to point to readings that differ 
from the received wording. But in the absence of the 
original text such indications are scarcely reliable, and 
nothing of importance has been elicited from them. 
And first, with regard to religious observances ; with the 
view of giving indisputable authority to Mosaic ordin- 
ances, the writer refers them to primitive times far 
removed from the Sinaitic incidents. The feast of 
Pentecost dates from the covenants made by God with 
Noah and Abraham ; the feast of Tabernacles was first 
celebrated by Abraham at Beersheba, and further solem- 
nised by Jacob after his vision at Bethel. The mourning 
on the Day of Atonement commemorated the loss of 
Joseph. Other matters are manipulated in a similar 
manner. Many of the glosses on the inspired statements 
are made with a view of obviating real or supposed 
difficulties. Thus concerning the speech of the serpent, 
it is explained that in Paradise before the fall all 
animals spoke, but lost their power in consequence of 
Adam's sin (chap. iii.). Cain and Seth took their sisters 
as wives ; and the names of the wives of all the chief 
patriarchs are carefully given as if from traditional 
genealogies. Adam's death at seventy years short of a 
thousand is a literal fulfilment of the curse, Gen. ii. 17, 


because he did die in " the day " in which he ate the 
forbidden fruit, one day being with the Lord as a thou- 
sand years (chap, iv.). 1 The angels brought the animals 
to the ark (chap. v.). Canaan, contrary to the advice of 
his father and his brethren, persisted in colonising the 
land of Libanus from Hamath to the river of Egypt ; 
and when Japhet moved westward, his son Madai dwelt 
in the Median land statements made to account for the 
fact that descendants of Ham and Japhet were found in 
the Semitic domain (chap. x.). It was Satan who induced 
God to order Abraham to sacrifice his son. Rebecca 
loved Jacob, because she knew that Abraham had been 
warned that that son of Isaac should be specially 
favoured by God (ch. xvi., xix.) ; and it was in the time 
of a great famine that Esau sold his birthright (chap, 
xxiv.). Eeuben escaped the punishment due to his 
crime, because the law had not at that time been fully 
revealed (chap, xxxiii.). Er was slain because he would 
not receive the wife offered him by his father, but pre- 
ferred to take one from the Canaanitish relations of his 
mother (chap. xli.). Judah's ignorance at the time and 
subsequent repentance obtained for him forgiveness of 
his sin with his daughter-in-law Tamar. Moses lay for 
seven days in the ark, during which time his mother 
came and suckled him by night, and his sister watched 
him by day to defend him from the birds (chap, xlvii.). 
It was not God, but the arch-enemy, Mastemah, who 
hardened the hearts of the Egyptians. 

1 The same explanation is given by Just. Mart. Dial. c. Tryph. c. 
81, cited by Dillm. and Ronsch, who have noted the particulars 
mentioned above. 


Sometimes remarks are introduced which have refer- 
ence to earlier or later passages, and are intended to give 
a completion to the bare fact mentioned in the sacred 
text. 1 Of this nature is the appearance of the angels to 
Abraham and Sarah (chap, xvi.), in fulfilment of the 
promise in Gen. xviii. 14 ; Jacob's tithing of his goods 
in Bethel (chap, xxxii.), according to his vow (Gen. 
xxviii. 22) ; his purposing to build a sanctuary there, 
from which he was dissuaded by the angel in his dream ; 
Jacob's war with seven Amorite kings (chap, xxxiv.), when 
he obtained the portion which he gave to Joseph (Gen. 
xlviii. 22). 2 The difficulties connected with the names 
and number of the members of Jacob's family that came 
into Egypt are not materially lightened by the state- 
ments of our book, which, omitting the two sons of 
Pharez and of Beriah (Gen. xlvi. 12, 17), adds in their 
place four sons of Dan and one of Naphtali, all of whom 
died prematurely in Egypt, and makes Dinah to have 
met her death in the land of Canaan before the removal 
{chap. xliv.). 

As additions to the inspired account may be mentioned 
such particulars as these : Adam took five days to name 
all the animals which came unto him, and having seen 
them all, found none like himself, which could be a help- 
mate for him (chap, iii.) ; as soon as Eve had eaten of the 
fruit, she was ashamed, and made herself a garment of 
fig leaves ; Adam was seven years in the garden of Eden, 

1 I avail myself here of the references in Ronsch, p. 495, and 
Jahrb. iii. p. 79. 

2 This war is mentioned in the Test, of the Twelve Patr. (Test. 
Jud.). A different account is given in Josh. xxiv. 32. 


where he guarded the ground from birds and beasts, 
collected and stored the fruits, " dressed and kept it ; " in 
the days of Jared the angels came down to earth to teach 
men righteousness (chap, iv.); Adam was the first who was 
buried in the earth ; Cain met with his death by the fall 
of his house, a just retribution, that he who had slain 
his brother with a stone should himself be killed by a 
stone ; the three sons of Noah built three towns on 
Mount Lubar, the part of Ararat on which the ark 
grounded, and where Noah was afterwards buried (chap, 
vii.). To these may be added the prolix account of 
Noah's distribution of the earth among his sons, and the 
curse laid on either who sought to take any portion 
which had not fallen to his share (chap, ix.) ; the statement 
about the position of the Tower of Babel, that it stood 
between the territory of Assyria and Babylon in the land 
of Shinar, and that the asphalt used in its construction 
was brought from the sea and the springs in Shinar ; the 
explanation of the selection of Levi for the priesthood by 
the principle of taking the tithe for God's use, Jacob 
counting upwards from Benjamin and thus reckoning 
Levi as the tenth ; Jacob's wrath at the deception 
practised on him in the matter of Leah and his angry 
speech to Laban, " Take thy daughter and let me be 
gone, for thou hast dealt ill with me ; " Joseph's observa- 
tion of his brethren's return to better feeling before he 
made himself known to them ; the war between the 
kings of Canaan and Egypt, which was the reason of 
Joseph's interment in the Holy Land being postponed 
till the Exodus. We have also an intercalation between 
vers. 1 and 2 of Gen. xlvi., showing how Jacob, fearing 



to go down into Egypt, waited patiently for a vision, 
and on the seventh day of the third month celebrated 
the feast of harvest ; and a long addition between vers. 
27 and 28 of Gen. xxxv., containing Rebecca's advice to 
Jacob, and her exacting an oath from Esau not to injure 
his brother, and many other particulars, including Leah's 
death and burial. Here may be mentioned Jacob's war 
with the Amorite kings, which is also recorded in the 
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Testam. Jud.). 
The identification of some of the names of the cities of 
these kings is very difficult. The first is Thapha (Tapho, 
Lat.), which is probably Tappuah (Josh. xii. 17); the 
second, Aresa (Arco, Lat.) ; the third, Saragan, cannot be 
identified ; the fourth, Selo (Silo, Lat.}, is doubtless 
Shiloh ; and the fifth, Gaiz (Gaas, Lat.), is the Gaash of 
Judg. ii. 9. The Amorites combined against Jacob to 
rob him of his cattle and to destroy him and his family ; 
and the patriarch, with his three sons, Levi, Judah, and 
Joseph, went out against them, slew the five kings, and 
made the people tributary. So again the account of 
Enoch is much enlarged, and gives evident proof of 
reference to the Book of Enoch, so called. " He was the 
first of men who taught learning and wisdom ; he wrote 
in a book the signs of heaven according to the order of 
the months ; he bare testimony to the generations of 
men, showed them the weeks of the jubilees, and the 
days of the years, and the sabbatical year. In his visions 
he saw the past and the future, how it should happen to 
the sons of men until the day of judgment, and wrote it 
all in a book. After the birth of Methuselah he was for 
six years with the angels, who instructed him in heavenly 


and earthly lore, which he transcribed at their dictation. 
He bore testimony against the angels who had sinned 
with the daughters of men. And for his reward he was 
taken away from among the sons of men, and carried by 
angels into the garden of Eden, where he learned the 
judgment and the eternal punishment of sinners, and 
wrote it all in a book." This is indeed a fairly complete 
account of the contents of the Book of Enoch as 
known to us. Sometimes the speeches of the actors in 
the Biblical drama are altered and lengthened. Thus 
Gen. xliv. 9 becomes : " he shall die, and we with our 
asses will become servants of thy lord ; " ver. 10:" Not 
so ; the man with whom I find it I will take as servant ; 
but ye, go home in peace ; " ver. 1 5 (in order to eliminate 
the idea of divination) : " Know ye not that such a man 
as I, who drink from this cup, dearly loves his cup ? " and 
ver. 20, instead of "his brother is dead," "one is gone 
and was lost, so that we have* never found him again." 

Under the same category come the names of the 
wives of the patriarchs from Adam to Terah, and those 
of the sons of Jacob (whence these details are derived is 
wholly unknown) ; the number of Adam's sons, who 
seem to have been twelve in all ; the four sacred spots 
in the earth, Eden, the mountain of the East (probably 
Lubar), 1 Sinai, and Zion ; the inscription found by 
Canaan, son of Arphaxad, containing astronomical lore 
taught to the forefathers by the angels (chap, viii.); 2 the 

1 See the identity of this mountain discussed by Konsch, pp. 504 if. 
If this mountain be the peak of Ararat, then the four holy places 
correspond respectively to Adam, Noah, Moses, and David. 

2 Comp. Joseph. Antiq. i. 2. 3. 


division of the earth by lot among the sons of Noah ; the 
mention of* the forty-three years consumed in the building 
of the Tower, with the avowed intention of thereby 
ascending to heaven (chap, x.) ; the beginning of war 
and the practice of slavery among the sons of Noah ; 
the introduction of idolatry by Ur, who built a town 
which he called after his father Kesed (chap, xi.) ; l 
Jacob's yearly presents to his father and mother after 
his return from Mesopotamia ; the assertion that Zebulon 
and Dinah were twins, that Zilpah and Bilhah were sisters 
(chap, xxviii.) ; the dream of Levi about his future 
priesthood (chap, xxxii.) ; the death of Bilhah and Dinah 
for grief at the loss of Joseph (chap, xxxiv.) ; the war 
which, at the instigation of his sons, Esau makes with 
Jacob after Isaac's death, and wherein he himself falls 
by his brother's hand, and his forces are defeated and 
slain (chaps, xxxvii., xxxviii.); the failure in the annual 
rise of the Nile, which was the cause of the famine in 
Egypt ; the hostilities between the Egyptians and the 
Oanaanites, during which the remains of the other sons 
of Jacob, except Joseph, were taken into Canaan and 
buried in the cave of Machpelah on Mount Hebron ; 2 
the lingering of some of the Jews in Canaan after this 
business of sepulture, and among them, Amram, who 

1 Here doubtless is an attempt at accounting for the name " Ur of 
the Chaldees," Gen. xi. 28. 

2 In Acts vii. 16, St. Stephen says the patriarchs were buried at 
Sychem, and Jerome affirms (Ep. 86) that their sepulchres were 
shown there in his day. Josephus, Antiq. ii. 8. 2, agrees with our 
book ; but in Bell. Jud. iv. 8. 7 introduces the same story with 
Xtyovj/. Perhaps some jealous feeling against Samaria may have 
led to the alteration of the locality in popular tradition. 


returned to Egypt shortly before Moses' birth (chaps, 
xlvi., xlvii.) ; the name of Pharaoh's daughter, Tharmuth 
(Lat. Termot) ; the order for the drowning of the 
Israelites' children executed for seven months only ; 
Hoses' instruction for twenty-one years by his father 
Arnram, and his residence at Pharaoh's court for the 
same period ; the binding of the evil spirit from the 
fourteenth to the eighteenth day, to give the Israelites 
time to escape from Egypt (chap, xlviii.). 

We have mentioned the introduction of the names of 
persons who are not specially designated in Scripture. 
Names are also affixed to places, rivers, etc., which are 
elsewhere not denned, or are called differently. Thus 
Shem's possession extends from the mountain Eafu 
(Ilhiphsei M.), where the river Tona (Tanais) flows, to 
the sea Miot (Pal. Mreotis) and Karaso (Chersonese). 
Adam's second place of abode is the land Eldad. Ham 
claims territory up to the fiery mountains, and westerly 
unto the sea Atil (Atlantic) and " the end at Gadith " 
(Gades). To Japhet appertains the district of Lag 
(Liguria), the mountain of Kilt (Kelts), the country to 
the west of Para (?), opposite to Apherag (Africa), and to 
his son Ijoajon (Javar) the land Adlud (Italy) and the 
neighbouring islands. Then Jacob after his return dwells 
at Akrabit ; Eachel bears her son Benjamin in Kebrathan 
(Gen. xxxv. 16, Sept.). The Amorites build two towns, 
Kobel and Thamuathares ; the king of Canaan pursues 
the Egyptians up to the walls of Eromon (Heroopolis). 

The legendary lore connected with Abraham is a study 
in itself. Many of the following Sagas are found in the 
Targum and elsewhere ; but the labour of identifying 


them or tracing them to their sources is, for Bible 
students, more curious than profitable. The child Abram 
was, from very early years, filled with loathing for the 
vices of those among whom he lived. When only four- 
teen, he separated himself from his father, refusing to 
worship his idols, and praying to the great Creator to 
save him from being led astray by the evil practices of 
his countrymen. At his command the ravens refrained 
from devouring the seed that was sown in the fields ; 
more than this, he invented a kind of drill, which was 
attached to the plough, and covered up the seeds as they 
were sown. As he grew older, he spoke seriously to his 
father about the folly and wickedness of worshipping 
idols ; and Terah assented to his words, but dared not 
openly avow his sentiments for fear of his relations, who 
would slay without scruple all who opposed the prevailing 
religion. But when he was sixty years old, Abram could 
endure it no longer, and set fire to the temple by night ; 
and Haran, his brother, perished * in the attempt to save 
the idols. Upon this, Terah and his family removed to 
Charran, 2 where they remained fourteen years. Here 
Abram learns the futility of astrology, shows entire 
dependence upon God, prays for deliverance from evil 
spirits who lead men's hearts astray, and is told by an 
angel not to return to Ur, but to leave his father's house, 
and to travel to Canaan. During his life he was subject 
to ten great trials or temptations : 3 1. The departure 

1 Gen. xi. 28. 

2 This is the first call, Acts vii. 2-4 ; Gen. xi. 31. 

3 These are variously given in rabbinical tradition. See Ronsch, 
pp. 382 ff. Only the tenth is actually numbered in " Jubilees." 


from his native land. 2. The famine which occasioned 
his retreat to Egypt. 3. The abduction of his wife. 
4. The war with the kings. 5. The painful rite of 
circumcision. 6. The dismissal of Ishmael. 7. The 
expulsion of Hagar. 8. The sterility of Sarah. 9. The 
offering of Isaac. 10. The death and burial of Sarah. 
It is said that while the descendants of Noah down to 
Abraham's time violated the command not to eat blood, 
Abraham strictly observed it, and taught it to his posterity. 
Variations from the received ritual observed in the 
celebration of festivals sometimes occur in our book. 
The beginnings of the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth 
months are to be observed as feasts, as they had already 
been observed by Noah. In the case of the feast of 
Tabernacles, no mention is made of the custom of draw- 
ing water from the pool of Siloam, and pouring it out 
solemnly at the altar, to which our Lord is supposed to 
allude in John vii. 37, 38. The omission may possibly be 
intended to befriend the Sadducees, who made the practice 
a subject of contention with the Pharisees, urging that it 
was never formally ordained by Moses, and therefore ought 
not to be observed. 1 Not, as already remarked, that the 
author was a Sadducee, but he may have wished to write 
in a conciliatory spirit, and not unnecessarily to obtrude 
points of difference. Other omissions are the injunction 
of fasting on the Day of Atonement, the exclusion of the 
uncircumcised from the Passover, and the appointment of 
Pentecost about the middle of the third month without 
specially naming the day. The time for the observance 
of the Passover is thus ordained : " The children of Israel 
1 See the authorities, ap. Ronsch, p. 514. 


shall keep the Passover on its appointed day, the four- 
teenth day of the first month, between evenings, in the 
third part of the day unto the third part of the night ; 
for two parts of the day are given to the light, and the 
third to night. This is that which the Lord hath com- 
manded, that thou shouldst do it between evenings. 
And it shall not be done (sacrificed) in the morning, at 
any hour of the light, but in the confines of the evening. 
And ye shall eat it in the evening unto the third part of 
the night, and what remains after the third part of the 
night shall be burned with fire." The author divides the 
day and the night into three parts each ; his " evening " 
consists of the third part of the day and the first two 
parts of night, his " morning " of the last part of the night 
and the first two parts of the day. The whole ceremony 
connected with the lamb must take place within the limits 
of the " evening " thus defined ; it must be killed in the 
last third of the day, and eaten within the first two parts 
of the night, or, as he puts it, " unto the third part of the 
night," i.e. exclusive. 1 This interpretation of the phrase r 
" between the two evenings," Ex. xii. 6, and the other 
directions, express the practice which obtained in the 
writer's time, and offer a possible solution of what has 
always been a subject of dispute. 

Explanations of the meaning of names are sometimes 
given. 2 Thus Eden is interpreted pleasure, which re- 
minds one of the LXX. TrapdSeio-os rijs rpv^ijs, Para- 
disus voluptatis, Vulg. Sala (son of Cainan) is dismissal ; 

1 Kriiger, Die Chronol im B. d. Jub. p. 298. 

2 These examples are collected by Rdnsch, pp. 496 ff., and Frankel, 
Monatssclir. v. pp. 380 ff. 


modern authorities make it to signify extension. Phalek 
is division, " for in his days the sons of Noah began to 
divide the earth." Eagev (= Eeu or Eagau) is so named 
" because the sons of men have become evil " (chap. x.). 
Seruch refers to his turning away in order to commit 
wickedness (chap. xi.). Ur Kasdim takes its appellation 
from its founder Ur, and his father Kesed (chap. xi.). 
Tharah (Terah), son of Nakhor (Nahor), was so called by 
his father " because the birds stole and devoured the 
seeds sown in the fields." 

Corrections of passages in the inspired narrative mis- 
understood, or liable to be misinterpreted, are offered, 
and supposed omissions or gaps are supplied from other 
sources. Some of these intercalations have been given 
above. The following are a few further examples. On 
the day that Adam fell, the mouths of all animals were 
closed, and they spoke no more as heretofore ; our first 
parents were clothed in order to show their superiority 
to the beasts of the earth, and the directions concerning 
apparel were given to the Israelites to differentiate them 
from the heathen ; the gradual deterioration of men was 
induced by the efforts of evil demons, who, until checked 
by God's interference, exercised terrible power upon 
earth ; Noah's sons were saved, not for their own, but 
for their father's sake ; the blessing of Shem (Gen. ix. 
26, 27) was, "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and 
may the Lord dwell in his habitations;" it was at a 
religious festival that Noah drank wine ; Terah abode in 
Charran when Abram left his home, but prayed his son 
to come and fetch him when he was settled in his new 
abode ; Hagar died before Sarah, and it was after the 


death of both that Abraham married Keturah ; before 
his death Abraham summoned Ishmael and his twelve 
sons, Isaac and his two sons, and the six sons of Keturah 
with their children, and gave them a solemn charge to 
cultivate purity and righteousness, and to live at peace 
with each other ; Judah and Levi remained at home with 
their father (while the other sons were sent forth to tend 
the herds), and received special blessings and prerogatives 
from Isaac ; for his action against the Shechemites, Levi 
was highly honoured, and his posterity was elected to the 
everlasting priesthood ; Joseph withstood the solicitations 
of Potiphar's wife for a full year, being then seventeen 
years old ; he was beloved by all the courtiers, because 
he was perfectly upright and fair, took no bribes, and 
behaved with affability to all ; Jacob his father gave him 
two portions in the land of Canaan, and thenceforward 
Joseph lived in peace, and nothing evil happened to him 
till the day of his death. 

In the chronology of our book many points are note- 
worthy. We have the formal announcement : " These 
are the words of the division of the days, according to 
the law and the testimony, according to the events of the 
years in sabbatical years and in jubilees." The Flood 
occurs A.M. 1353 ; and from the Creation to the Exodus, 
the period comprised in the work, the author reckons 
forty -nine jubilees, one year -week, and two years, i.e. 
2410 years, and makes the passage of the Jordan to 
occur A.M. 2450. This date is composed exactly of fifty 
jubilees of forty-nine years each, and allows a new jubilee 
period to commence with the entrance into the promised 
land. Then his year consists of fifty - two weeks, i.e. 


364 days. "The sun," he says, "was made for a great 
sign upon the earth to regulate days, and sabbaths, and 
years, and jubilees, and all seasons " (chap, ii.) ; " but the 
moon confuses and mars the order, and comes every 
year ten days in advance " (chap, vi.) ; and the only way 
of preventing confusion and error in the whole system of 
feasts, is to make the year number 364 days. Taking for 
granted that a new jubilee began at the entrance of the 
Israelites into Canaan, he had to arrange his chronology 
accordingly, and he therefore reckons, as we have said, 
fifty jubilees of forty-nine years each to the close of the 
wanderings in the desert. In very many particulars he 
agrees entirely with the Masoretic texts of Genesis and 
Exodus, but he takes liberties or follows a different read- 
ing in other passages. To give a few examples : Jared 
was sixty-two years old when he begat Enoch, the present 
Hebrew text giving his age as one hundred and sixty- 
two ; Methuselah's son Lamech was born when his father 
was sixty-seven (187, Heb.); Lamech was fifty-three (18 2, 
Heb.) when he begat Noah. These details are supported 
partly by the Septuagint, partly by the Samaritan Penta- 
teuch. But in enumerating the post-diluvian patriarchs, 
the author is greatly at variance with existing authorities. 
Arphaxad begets Cainan seventy-four years after the 
Flood ; l Cainan begets Salah in his fifty-seventh year ; 
Salah begets Eber in his sixty-seventh ; Eber, Peleg in 

J The introduction of Cainan between Arphaxad and Salah is 
authorised by the LXX., but the chronology is different. Those 
who desire to enter further into the chronology of the Jubilees will 
find help in Dillmann, and in Zeitschrift der Deutsch. morgenl. Gesell- 
schaftj 1858, pp. 279 if., only rejecting the writer's unwarrantable con- 
elusion that the book was written some three hundred years B.C. 


his sixty-eighth ; Peleg, Eeu in his sixty-first ; Serug, 
Nahor in the 116th year after the birth of Eeu; Nahor r 
Terah in his sixty-second year. All these numbers 
differ from those in the Hebrew and the Septuagint. 
On the question of the " four hundred and thirty years," 
in Ex. xii. 40, the Jubilee Book would seem to agree 
with the LXX. in reading " in the land of Egypt and in 
the land of Canaan ; " for the date of Isaac's birth is 
fixed A.M. 1980, i.e. 430 years before the Exodus, and 
thus the reckoning includes the sojourn in Canaan ; but 
it dates the arrival of Jacob in Egypt at A.M. 2172, thus 
making the residence of the Israelites in that country 
last for two hundred and thirty- eight years. The 
arrangement of the years of Moses' life is not altogether 
in accordance with Scripture. He is born A.M. 2330, is 
introduced at the king's court at the age of twenty-one, 
kills the Egyptian and flees when he is forty-two, and 
remains in Midian for thirty-six years. Joseph's birth 
is set A.M. 2134, he is sold when seventeen years old, 
was a slave for ten and in prison for three years, and 
held supremacy in Egypt for eighty years, dying at the 
age of 110, "in the second year of the sixth week (year- 
week) of the forty-sixth jubilee," A.D. 2242. This 
would make him only 108 years old at his death. There 
are very many other passages where the dates given do 
not harmonise with preceding or succeeding statements. 
Some of these miscalculations are doubtless ascribable to 
clerical errors in MSS., some are corrected in the old 
Latin versions, but a great number of deviations remain 
which can only be explained by carelessness in the 
translator, or lapse of memory in the writer. Abraham 


is born A.M. 1876; he dies at the age of 175, "in the 
first week of the forty-fourth jubilee, in the second 
year," i.e. A.M. 2109, which is quite wrong, and would 
make him 233 years old at his death. And if, as 
Dillmann proposes, we read " the forty-third jubilee," we 
shall set his decease in A.M. 2060, which is still nearly 
ten years wrong according to the jubilee date of his 
birth. Such manifest mistakes we should be inclined to 
attribute to the scribe or the translator, rather than to 
the author himself. His plan, indeed, required great 
skill and precision. Starting from the principle that the 
period from the creation to the entrance into Canaan 
consisted of fifty jubilees of forty-nine years each, and 
being dominated by the idea of the sacredness and pre- 
ponderance of the number seven, he had to fit events 
into their proper place in this septenary system. And 
certainly, if we consider the use of numbers in Holy 
Scripture and the mystery which attaches to them, we 
cannot but allow the importance of the number seven. 
In his zeal, however, for the use of this number, our 
author sometimes introduces it where Scripture is silent, 
sometimes for this purpose even alters the wording of 
his text. Thus he affirms that God opened seven sluices 
in heaven to produce the Flood, and that Benjamin's 
mess was seven times as 'great as his brethren's. But 
other considerations lead us to think that there is a 
significance in the scriptural employment of this number 
which is not to be disregarded. Its continual recurrence 
in the Eevelation of St. John confirms this view. It is 
the number of forgiveness, of covenant, of holiness, per- 
fection, and rest. The idea of rest, of course, meets us 


at the close of the work of creation ; but there are many 
other instances of a similar use. Enoch, the seventh 
from Adam, never tasted death, but was translated and 
entered into his rest ; six times seven stations brought 
the Israelites to the promised land ; on the seventh 
day the walls of Jericho fell down, and the people took 
possession of the city, after they had marched round it 
seven times with seven priests blowing seven trumpets. 
I need here hardly mention the sabbatical year and the 
year of jubilee, by the former of which the soil obtained 
a period of rest after being cropped for six successive 
years, and by the latter the state, the body politic, had 
its rest and sanctification, for then estates returned to 
their original possessors, and slaves were manumitted. 
All the feasts were more or less connected with the 
sabbatical system. The Passover and the feast of 
Tabernacles lasted each of them seven days ; seven weeks 
after the Passover came Pentecost ; the great Day of 
Atonement occurred in the seventh month of the year, 
itself a sacred month ; the days of holy convocation were 
seven. Further, the blood of propitiation was sprinkled 
seven times before the mercy-seat ; seven were the pieces 
of furniture pertaining to the tabernacle ; seven were 
the branches of the sacred candlestick. 1 

With such grounds for giving considerable importance 
to the number seven, our author with great skill reduced 
his historical facts to these dimensions ; and it is not 
unlikely that many errors have crept into the present 

1 Some of the above remarks concerning the number seven are 
quoted from an article contributed by me some years ago to a now 
forgotten Review. 


text from the scribes' or translators' neglect of this 
principle, and that many difficulties might be removed 
by the restoration of the septenary reckoning where it 
seems to be neglected. Where the chief dates, the 
epochs assigned to leading events, are not divisible by 
seven, we may reasonably conclude that there is some 
error in our versions which did not exist in the original, 
or that some passages have perished which would have 
introduced consistency in statements now incomplete or 
contradictory. The intended precision in the text, which 
to some events assigns not only the year, but even the 
month and the day, is attained by a comparison of the 
various dates afforded by the Hebrew, by arbitrary 
alterations, by rabbinical glosses, and by the introduction 
of later holy days and seasons into these earlier times. 
Many of the dates thus obtained are interesting. Thus 
the Fall takes place on the seventeenth day of the second 
month in the year 8 ; Abel offers his sacrifice in his 
twenty-second year at the full moon of the seventh 
month the feast of Tabernacles, A.M. 99 ; Noah is 
born A.M. 09, and dies at the age of 950, A.M. 1659, 
having observed the feast of Weeks for 350 years, and 
being contemporary with Adam for more than 200 years. 
The sons of Noah were born thus: Shem in 1207, 
Ham in 1209, and Japhet in 12 12, and the Flood began 
in 1308 ; Noah divides the earth among his three sons 
in 1569 ; the tower of Babel was begun in the fourth 
week of the thirty-fourth jubilee =1645 A.M., and the 
construction was stopped forty-three years afterwards. 
Abram leaves Egypt in 1961, when Tanis was built, and 
receives the covenant of circumcision on the feast of 


First-fruits in 1979 ; Isaac is born on the same festival 
in the following year ; he marries Eebecca in the same 
year that his father married Keturah ; Abraham before 
he dies (A.M. 2060), blesses and instructs Jacob. Jacob 
is sixty-eight years old when he is sent away to Mesopo- 
tamia, A.M. 2114. Isaac dies (A.M. 2162) in the same 
year that Joseph, being then of the age of thirty, is 
raised to be next to King Pharaoh. The birth of Pharez 
and Zarah coincides with the end of the seven years of 
plenty in Egypt. 

In the above chronological arrangements there are 
many inconsistencies and inaccuracies which are easy to 
point out ; but the labour is hardly profitable, as the 
dates have been quoted merely to give a notion of the 
treatment employed which satisfied the author's require- 
ments, and not with any idea of effecting an improvement 
in the received chronology, faulty and deceptive as it 
undoubtedly is. The subject has been taken in hand by 
Kriiger (in . Zeitschrift der Deutsch. morgenl. Gesellschaft, 
1858), who has examined most of the chronological 
statements in the book, showing their various inconsist- 
encies and correcting errors where possible. 
. There are passages relating to events then future, 
sometimes not told in prophetic character. Thus it is 
said (chap, xxxviii.) : " There were kings who reigned over 
Edom, before that a king reigned over the children of 
Israel, even unto this day. There was a king in Edom, 
Balak son of Beor, the name of whose city was Dinaba." 
But commonly many matters of later history are assigned 
to early times, especially those that are concerned with 
ceremonial and ritual observances. Thus the Sabbath 


was observed by the angels in heaven 1 before it was 
appointed for men at the end of the creation. The law 
about the purification of women after childbirth (Lev. xii.) 
is traced to the fact that Adam was made in the first 
week and Eve in the second ; hence the enactment, 
" seven days for a man-child and two weeks for a maid- 
child." And the further law concerning the time of 
separation after parturition is grounded on the introduc- 
tion of Adam into Eden forty days after his creation, 
and of Eve eighty days after her formation. This law 
is still observed in t/he Abyssinian Church. At sunrise 
on the day that Adam was banished from the garden, 
he offers incense composed of the four ingredients 
specified in Ex. xxx. 34 ; Cain's fate was an example 
of the law of retaliation afterwards re-enacted, Lev. 
xxiv. 18 ff . ; the use of the jubilee periods was taught 
by Enoch to his contemporaries ; Noah does all in 
accordance with the Mosaic Law, offering sacrifice of the 
appointed animals, and first-fruits and drink-offerings. 
The law of tithes is established from the time of 
Abraham, who also celebrated the feast of First-fruits 
and of Tabernacles, and made it an ordinance for ever 
according to Lev. xxiii. 34 ff. Abraham anticipates the 
special instructions concerning laying salt on the sacri- 
fice, using certain wood for the fires, 2 purifications, and 

1 This notion is found also in the Assumption of Moses, chap, 
i. 17. 

2 There are some fourteen trees mentioned whose wood may be 
used in the sacrificial fire (chap. xvi.). Many of these cannot be 
identified. A wood offering is spoken of Neh. x. 34, xiii. 31. 
Abraham's incense consists of the seven substances mentioned in 
Ecclus. xxiv. 15. 



washings. The prohibition against intermarrying with 
the Canaanites was originally uttered by the same 
patriarch; and the rule concerning the betrothing of the 
elder daughter before the younger was transcribed in the 
heavenly tables, which also enacted the punishment of 
death for Israelites guilty of mixed marriages or harlotry. 
The Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh 
month (Lev. xxiii.) was established by Jacob in memory 
of the loss of Joseph. Joseph resisted the temptation 
of Potiphar's wife because he knew of the eternal law 
against adultery which had been delivered to Abraham 
and transmitted by him to his children ; and Judah's sin 
with his daughter-in-law Tamar led to the statute against 
such incestuous unions, and the punishment of them by 
fire. It was at the feast of Tabernacles that Levi was 
consecrated to be priest by his father in Bethel, when 
" he clothed him in sacerdotal robes, and filled his hands," 
offering very ample sacrifices, and assigning to him from 
that day forward not only the first-fruits, but also the 
second tithe which was now introduced. We may add 
that, according to our book, there was much esoteric 
teaching which was not openly divulged to the people, 
but was communicated to the patriarchs in secret 
writings and by them transmitted to posterity. 

Having given the above sketch of the contents of our 
book, we may now briefly examine the author's teaching 
upon certain points of doctrine, and then we shall be 
better able to come to some conclusion concerning the 
aim and tendency of the document. 

The teaching concerning angels and demons is in many 
respects such as is found elsewhere. The former are 


often called Watchers, as in other apocalyptic works. 
The Angel of the Presence and his companions convey 
God's will to men, instruct them in all useful knowledge 
of things in heaven and in earth, and execute God's 
wrath against sinners. The serpent is not identified 
with Satan in the account of the Fall. The great flow 
of iniquity overspreading the earth is traced to the 
intercourse of angels with the daughters of men, which 
introduced a race of beings gigantic in stature as in 
wickedness. And when God determined to destroy men 
with the Flood, he punished the sinning angels by con- 
fining them in the depths of the earth till the great day 
of judgment. But a race of evil demons sprang from 
them, 1 who vexed and deceived and tortured the sons of 
Noah so grievously that they came to their father and 
asked his intercession to free them from their malice. 
And Noah prayed to God to check their power and 
withhold them from having dominion over the righteous 
seed. And the Lord commanded His angels to take and 
bind them and cast them into the place of torment. But 
Mastema, 2 the chief of the demons, requested that some 
might be left to execute his will in the earth ; and God 
permitted one-tenth of them to remain, reserving the 
rest for the place of judgment. And to counteract the 

1 The same idea is found in the Book of Enoch xv. 8-10. 

2 Mastema is often mentioned in Lepto-Genesis, generally with 
the epithet "supreme," "highest." The Hebrew word Mastemah is 
found in Hos. ix. 7, 8, in the sense of " hatred," where the LXX. 
translate pavi 'a. and Aquila fyxtrY)ffi$. The word in the Ethiopian is 
written Mastema, in the Latin Mastima, and in later Greek Masti- 
phat. In the apocryphal Act. Apost. (ed. Tischend., Lips. p. 98) the 
form is Mansemat. 


diseases which the demons had introduced among man- 
kind, one of the good angels taught Noah the use of 
medicines and the virtues of herbs, all which lore he 
wrote in a book and imparted to his son Shem before his 
death. There is some appearance of a classification of 
angels in Lepto-Genesis. The highest is the Angel of 
the Presence, who leads the Israelites in the pillar of 
fire and cloud ; the second are the archangels, or the 
angels of blessing ; the third are the angels of the 
elements, who direct the powers of nature. These were 
all created on the first day with the heaven and earth 
(chap, ii.) ; and their agency is introduced on every 
occasion. Nothing happens or is done without their 
co-operation. They bring men's sins before God. Adam 
was indebted to them for learning his work in Eden, 
Enoch for his knowledge of all things in heaven and 
earth. It was they who bound the fallen angels, taught 
Noah the use of feast days, presided at the division of 
the earth among his sons, came to inspect the Tower of 
Babel. Abram was called by an angel to the Land of 
Promise, and instructed in the Hebrew tongue ; by an 
angel was his hand arrested at the sacrifice of Isaac. 
Angels unfold the future to Abram and to Jacob, save 
Moses at the inn from the demon who thought to slay 
him, bring to naught the devices of the Egyptian 

Concerning the immortality of the soul, though it is an 
article of the author's creed, very little is said, nothing 
concerning the resurrection of the body. Speaking of 
the prosperity of Israel in the latter days, the writer 
observes (chap, xxiv.) : " They shall see the punishment 


of their enemies, and their bones shall rest in the earth, 
but their spirit shall have much peace, and they shall 
know that the Lord is He who keeps justice and shows 
mercy on hundreds and thousands and on all who love 
Him." If, as is probable, the author wished his work to 
be acceptable to all his countrymen without regard to 
sects and parties, the omission of a tenet repudiated by 
the powerful sect of the Sadducees may be accounted 

The idea of a personal Messiah is nowhere recognised. 
Moses is told to write the account of his revelation for 
the use of posterity, " till the Lord should descend and 
dwell with them for ever and ever, and His sanctuary 
should be raised in their midst, and He Himself should 
be seen by them, that all might know that He is the God 
of Israel " (chap. i.). So in the Assumption of Moses 
the seer looks forward to no earthly monarch or heaven- 
sent delegate who should fill the throne of David and lead 
the people to victory, but he expects the manifestation 
of Jehovah Himself, as in the wilderness of old, guiding 
and ruling with some evident token of His presence. In 
Lepto- Genesis, Zion is to be the seat of this Epiphany ; 
for " in the new creation Zion shall be sanctified, and 
through it shall all the world be purified from guilt and 
uncleanness for ever and ever " (chap. iv.). And as for 
Israel, it is written and firmly established, that if they 
turn to the Lord in righteousness, He will remove their 
guilt and forgive their sin, "and compassion shall be 
shown to all who turn from all their misdeeds once a 
a year" (chap, v.), i.e. on the Day of Atonement. In 
another place (chap, xv.) the author says, that God has 


appointed no one to reign over Israel, neither Spirit nor 
angel, but that He Himself is their only Lord and 
Sovereign. Other nations have their appointed guardian 
angels, and depend less directly upon God for government, 
but Israel is guided and protected by the immediate 
interference of the Lord. 1 He is the first-born, chosen 
out of all the peoples, selected to be the depositary of the 
law, and bound to mark his superiority to the rest of the 
world by the observance of the Sabbath and the rite of 
circumcision. In his family is the race of priests who 
intercede with God for all flesh and do Him acceptable 
service. The writer is copious in enunciating the pre- 
eminence of his people, and looks forward to a time when, 
as a reward for their repentance and renewed adherence 
to God, they should triumph over their enemies and reign 
supreme in the earth. What is to become of the rest of 
the world is nowhere definitely expressed, as in pursuance 
of his plan the seer was not bound to extend his gaze 
beyond the occupation of the Promised Land and the 
results consequent thereon ; and if he looks forward to a 
time when Israel shall revolt from God and disobey His 
law, he is really recalling the warnings given in Deuter- 
onomy with only faint allusion to the events of later times 
or the prospects of a dim futurity. At the same time 
the narrow insularity of the writer and his contempt for, 
and hatred of other nations are continually appearing in 
his pages, so that what Tacitus (Hist. v. 5) says of the 
feeling of the Jews may certainly be predicated of our 
author: "Adversus omnes alios hostile'odium." Ammon 
and Moab, the Edomites and Amorites, are exhibited as 
1 Comp. Deut. xxxii. 8, 9, 12, Sept., and Ecclus. xvii. 17. 


the enemies of God's people, the object of Heaven's curse, 
and doomed to destruction. The feud with the Canaan- 
ites dates from very, early times. They were to be 
exterminated, not merely for their enormous wickedness 
which cried aloud for chastisement, but chiefly because 
Canaan the son of Ham seized on the region from 
Lebanon to the brook of Egypt which appertained to the 
inheritance of Shern, thus dispossessing the righteous 
seed. While Israel was under God's immediate rule and 
guidance, other nations were governed not merely by 
guardian angels, but by demons who alienated them from 
the Lord. And the reward of Israel's repentance is to be 
found in the utter subjection of enemies and the heavy 
punishment inflicted on subject peoples. 

Inflated with the notion of the superiority of Israel, 
the author can ill admit errors in the conduct of the chief 
fathers of the race, and takes pains to palliate the faults 
which are attributed to them in the canonical accounts, 
or to pass them over in silence. They are in his view 
paragons of virtue and piety, scrupulous observers of the 
ritual and ceremonial law before it was publicly enacted. 
Such excellent personages could not greatly err. Thus 
Abram's deceit in the matter of Sarai at the court of 
Pharaoh is left unrecorded, while various particulars of 
his early piety, learning, and devotion, not mentioned in 
Genesis, are painted in glowing colours. In Isaac's 
question to Jacob the omission of the name Esau 
" Art thou my very son ? " and his answer, " I am thy 
son " clears Jacob from a verbal falsehood ; just as the 
alteration in Gen. xliv. 15, mentioned above, is intended 
to secure Joseph from the charge of practising divination. 


Isaac repents of his partiality for Esau and learns to 
regard Jacob as his true son and heir ; so Jacob in late 
life loves and honours Leah, having freely forgiven the 
treacherous part which she once had played. His piety 
is exhibited in every circumstance of his life; when he 
flees from Laban, he prays and worships the God of his 
fathers before he sets forth ; he affords a pattern of filial 
devotion by his obedience to his parents, and the care he 
takes in ministering regularly to their wants. Not to 
weary the reader with particulars, one can say shortly 
that the book is filled with the glorification of the 
patriarchs, who were represented as adorned with every 
virtue, and as genuine Israelites, observers of the Mosaic 
Law, moral and ceremonial. 

A few words may now be added concerning the object 
and intention of this treatise. The aim of the writer is 
not difficult to define. In the first place, he evidently 
desired to explain difficulties which had met him in 
reflecting on the statements of Scripture. Some things 
had been misunderstood ; he would interpret them aright. 
Some things were obscure ; he would make them clear. 
Some omissions occurred ; he would supply the missing 
links. Some points were only hinted at or too briefly 
stated ; he would develop these intimations into complete 
and well-rounded statements. Especially seemed the 
glosser's hand to be needed in arranging the chronology 
of the patriarchal times. In this matter, however, as we 
have shown above, he has not been uniformly successful, 
his arithmetic being sometimes faulty and landing him in 
impossible results. As he claims credit for his state- 
ments on the ground of a heavenly revelation, we should 


be inclined to attribute these errors to copyists ; but 
unfortunately they are of such frequent occurrence, and 
many of them are so interwoven with the narrative, that 
they must be assigned to the author's carelessness or his 
inability to keep in hand all the links of his long history. 
Another object was in the writer's mind. Around the 
sacred record of Genesis and Exodus had arisen a rank 
growth of legends, additions, and traditionary statements ; 
some features of Biblical characters were exaggerated, the 
merest hints were expanded into detailed narratives, and 
sagas took the place of the simple authentic accounts. 
In the Alexandrian school persons and events were 
idealised into abstractions, .and became merely metaphors 
and pictures of vices and virtues. The Book of Jubilees 
recalls men from these speculations to plain historical, or 
quasi-historical, facts. It makes the heroes of the Bible 
living characters. Discarding much legendary matter, it 
claims for the narrative, with its many additions to the 
sacred text, a supreme importance, and tells the tale of 
the patriarchs in an authoritative style which enforces 
acceptance, and with such amplification as requires no 
further increment. It recounts early history in the 
spirit of the writer's own day. We here are shown 
what a pious Jew felt and believed at the commence- 
ment of the Christian era. His opinions on momentous 
topics, such as Satan, the immortality of the soul, future 
judgment, are intimated or distinctly set forth. The 
writing aims to be a popular work, such an one as would 
seize upon the mind of the less instructed, whether Jews 
or proselytes, and hold them to their faith by fear as 
well as reverence. Hence come the exaggerated penalties 


for certain common offences, and the claim of primitive 
revelation for many peculiarly Jewish observances. 
Compared with the heavenly origin and hoar antiquity 
of Jewish customs, morals, and ritual, all other religions 
were inferior and of no account ; and the Hebrew must 
be known among all nations by his strict adherence to 
the precepts of his forefathers. Having this object in 
view, the writer takes special pains to enforce certain 
portions of the Mosaic Law, both by glorifying its origin 
and by denouncing vengeance on its infringement. 
Notably is this the case with the law of sacrifice and 
offering. He is most particular in showing the customs 
of the earliest patriarchs in this matter, how that they 
never failed to make offerings on every suitable occasion, 
how that Abraham delivered to Isaac most stringent 
commands concerning sacrifice, and how highly honoured 
was Levi as the father of the priestly family. In other 
cases the inculcation of a command goes far beyond 
Scripture in strictness. The man who eats blood shall 
be utterly destroyed, he and his seed for ever, as long as 
the earth exists (chap. vi.). The father who gives his 
daughter, or he who gives his sister, in marriage to a 
heathen shall be stoned to death, and the wife shall be 
burned with fire (chap. xxx.). The Sabbath is broken 
even by speaking of taking a journey, or of buying and 
selling, by lighting a fire, by drawing water, etc., 1 and 
the offender is to be put to death. A second tithe is 
due to the Lord, and must be paid for ever by all true 

1 Among Sabbath-breakers is reckoned, according to Dillmann's 
version, "der bei seinera Weibe schlaft," a deduction from Ex. 
xix. 15. 


Israelites. Only certain named (chap, xxi.) woods are 
to be used for the fire of the burnt-offering. The feast 
of Tabernacles is to be celebrated with garlands on the 
head, and with a procession round the altar seven times 
on every day of the festival. There is a multitude of 
other strict and irksome enactments, which, as they were 
in force in the time of our Lord, justified His saying of 
the scribes and Pharisees (Matt, xxiii. 4) : " They bind 
heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them 
on men's shoulders." One sees in the Jubilees the spirit 
and temper which met our blessed Lord in His earthly 
teaching, the way in which a strong and dominant party 
used the Old Testament to support their objects. Close 
observance of the law, minutiae of ceremony, strictness of 
ritual, were enjoined by our author with the view of 
differentiating his own people from all other nations, and 
raising them to the highest eminence as specially favoured 
by God, and bound to uphold their just prerogatives. 
They were subject to many perilous attractions at this 
time. Greece with its science and culture, Eome with 
its might and supremacy, alike drew away adherents 
from Hebraism. Many had become ashamed of their 
religion and their very nationality. Herod's party was 
Jewish only in name. It may be that the teaching, 
miracles, and example of Christ had also begun to move 
men's minds. All these dangers required some counter- 
acting energy to resist their influence. Our author offers 
his book as a panacea. The law, which he endeavours 
to enforce, was of no human origin, and of no ephemeral 
existence ; it was eternal, always written in the heavenly 
tablets, and intended to last and to be executed for ever 


and ever. Evidently he desires to reanimate the spirit 
of Judaism, which he saw to be endangered by contact 
with its surroundings ; and, taking no prominent side in 
the contest of parties, he wishes to combine all true 
Israelites together in resistance to the worldly or heathen 
influences around them, which were undermining the 
faith of the people, and introducing laxity and innova- 
tion, to unite under one banner the divided elements of 
the holy nation, " till the sanctuary of the Lord should 
be raised on the hill of Zion, and the portion of Israel 
should be holiness, and peace, and blessing, from hence- 
forth and for ever" (chap. i.). 


PASSING through Drury Lane in the year of grace 1819, 
and examining the bookstalls which then rendered that 
locality a happy hunting - ground for bibliomaniacs, 
Kichard Laurence, Archbishop of Cashel, at the counter 
of one J. Smith, lighted upon an Ethiopic version of the 
Prophecy of Isaiah, to which was appended a further 
treatise, called the " Ascension of Isaiah." The book- 
seller, not recognising the value of the work, sold it for 
a trifle ; but the Archbishop, who was tolerably well 
acquainted with the language in which it was written, at 
once perceived that he had become the possessor of a 
long-lost book, and one which was a precious contribution 
to the study of Jewish - Christian thought in the first 
period of Christianity. Nor was it long before he made 


the literary world cognisant of his discovery, publishing 
the Ethiopic text with an English and a Latin version, 
critical notes, and observations on the date, contents, and 
bearing of the tractate. 1 Of this pseudepigraphical work, 
considered to belong to the earliest Christian centuries, 
I propose to give some account. 

The history of the text is soon told. The MS. on 
which Archbishop Laurence based his edition is now in 
the Bodleian Library, and was for a time deemed to be 
the only authority extant or available. It had previously 
passed through perilous experience. Written originally 
for the use of a monk, Aaron, who was about to travel 
in the Holy Land, it had been brought back from 
Jerusalem by Th. Petrous, who, in his edition of the 
Prophecy of Jonah translated from the Ethiopic into 
Latin (A.D. 1660), mentions that he had examined it. 
How it arrived at the bookstall in Drury Lane is un- 
known. At the time it appeared no other copy was 
known to exist. 

But since that date supplementary aids for determin- 
ing the text have come to light, and scholars on the 
Continent have exercised their ingenuity in correcting 
erroneous readings and renderings, and in elucidating 
and illustrating the work. In 1828, Angelus Mai 
published two fragments of an ancient Latin version of 
portions of the work, containing chaps, ii. 14 to iii. 13, 
and vii. 1-19, without being aware of what work they 

1 "Ascensio IsaicE vatis, opusculum pseud epigraph um, multis 
abhinc seculis, ut videtur, deperditum, nunc autem apud ^Ethiopas 
compertum, et cum versione Latina Anglicaque public! juris factum 
a Ricardo Laurence." Oxoniae 1819. 


formed a portion. Their right position was discovered 
by Niebuhr, and fully discussed by Nitzsch in Stud, und 
Krit. 1830. Another section (chaps, vi. xi.), containing 
what is called the " Vision of Isaiah," was known to 
have been printed at Venice in 1522, and was quoted 
by Sixtus Senensis in his Bill. Sancta (lib. ii. p. 59) 
under the title of " Anabasis " or " Anabatikon," but no 
copy was forthcoming, till one was found in 1832 in 
the library at Munich, and edited with preface and notes 
by J. C. L. Gieseler. The Abyssinian war in 1868, as 
it was magnificently named, if it conferred no glory on 
its promoters and executors, brought into our possession 
some literary treasures which have proved of great 
interest. Among the plunder thus obtained at Magdala 
were two Ethiopic MSS. of the " Ascension," which are 
now deposited in the British Museum. They are of no 
great antiquity, being attributed to the fifteenth and 
eighteenth centuries respectively ; but they have been 
employed with good effect by Dillmann in preparing his 
useful edition of the work. 1 By collating these MSS. 
with Laurence's text, he has been enabled to correct the 

1 " Ascensio Isaise ^Ethiopice et Latine cum Prolegomenis, Adnota- 
tionibus criticis et exegeticis, additis versionum Latinarum reliquiis, 
edita ab Augusto Dillmann." Lipsise 1877. Of this excellent little 
work I have made much use, and hereby thankfully acknowledge 
my obligations to the author. A translation of the Ascension is 
given in the Lutheran Quarterly of October 1878, vol. viii. pp. 513 ff. ; 
but this I have been unable to consult, as it is not to be found either 
in the British Museum or in the Cambridge University Library. 
Many learned Germans, e.g. Grimm, Gieseler, Nitzsch, Ewald, 
Gfrorer, Movers, have treated of the work with completeness, not 
to say prolixity. It is also handled by Gesenius in his Commentary 
on Isaiah, vol. i. p. 45 ff. (1821). 


latter in numerous places, to fill up lacunae, and to prove 
the existence of many interpolations and corruptions. 
In the year following this publication another discovery 
was made. The National Library at Paris was found to 
possess a Greek MS. with the title : " The Prophecy, 
Revelation, and Martyrdom of the holy and glorious and 
greatest of the prophets, Isaiah the Prophet," and it was 
concluded that at length the original and long-lost text 
had been discovered. Further examination proved that 
this expectation was by no means realised. The docu- 
ment in question was a beautiful parchment of the 
twelfth century, containing a collection of Legends of 
the Saints commemorated in the Calendar between the 
first day of March and the last of May. In the Eastern 
Church Isaiah is commemorated, May 9, in company 
with the martyr Christopher, and as appointed for that 
day the MS. inserts the Legends of these two worthies. 
The Latin Church observes another day in memory of 
the prophet ; but neither in the Eoman Breviary nor in 
the Greek Menaion is there any trace of this particular 
form of the myth. Disappointment met the sanguine 
examiners of this manuscript. It was found to contain 
only a portion of the work, and that in a different order 
from that of the Ethiopic text, and with the omission of 
an important and lengthy passage. It is to be regarded 
merely as an extract from the original as contained in 
chaps, vi.-xi. and ii.-v., with many glosses and additions. 
The omitted part is that which, from internal evidence, 
is supposed to be of Christian origin, and was doubtless 
absent from the copy whence the Greek MS. was taken ; 
otherwise, as it contains matter most suitable for a 


legendary, it would have found a place there. In this 
document, to the legend concerning Isaiah's death is 
appended a myth concerning his burial and the origin of 
the Pool of Siloam, which came into existence in answer 
to his prayers. The legend here takes the same form as 
that which is found in the Chronicon Pascliale of the 
Byzantine Histories. There is no doubt that it is not a 
correct copy of the original Greek work, but is a com- 
pilation from it, containing doubtless many genuine 
passages, retaining much of the actual wording, but with 
the whole story abbreviated, epitomised, and refashioned. 
The fragment is printed with prefatory remarks by Dr. 
Oscar von Gebhardt in Hilgenf eld's Zeitschrift for 1878, 
pp. 330 ff. Since this publication I am not aware that 
any further aid for the settling of the text has appeared. 
Postponing for a time the consideration of the internal 
evidence for the date of the work, which will be more 
satisfactorily treated after we have glanced at the con- 
tents, we may proceed to examine its external claims to 
be regarded as contemporaneous with primitive Christian 
times. In suchlike investigations, where the original is 
no longer extant, we are reduced to searching for citations 
and references in early writers, whether acknowledged or 
recognisable. Speaking of the trials of God's servants 
in old time, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews 
mentions (chap. xi. 37) that some of them "were sawn 
asunder." Now to the other trials, or forms of death 
noticed in the passage, we can find parallels in the 
histories of the worthies of the Old Testament, or in the 
Books of Maccabees ; but there is no instance of a 
primitive saint meeting his death by the saw. It is 


true that David is said to have put the Ammonites under 
saws ; but these were not martyrs, but enemies of Israel, 
and it is quite possible that the expression means no 
more than that they were put to the servile work of 
sawing timber. It is true also that, according to the 
Greek version of Amos, the Damascenes sawed asunder 
the Gileadite women ; l but the writer in the Epistle is 
not speaking of such wholesale cruelty practised on a 
large district, but of the tortures and murders of indi- 
viduals. The only saint who is supposed to have 
experienced death in this manner is Isaiah ; and the 
tradition which asserts that he was sawn asunder with 
a wooden saw is found embodied in the book which 
we are considering, where we are told that Manasseh, 
incensed at Isaiah's warnings, had him thus slain, and 
with his fawning false prophets around him stood by 
deriding the holy man's sufferings. 2 Of course, the 
reference in the Epistle may belong to some other person 
than Isaiah, though we know of none to whom it would 
apply ; or the writer may have derived the tradition 
from a different source than the " Ascension ; " and there- 
fore no argument for the date of the work can be 
grounded on this allusion ; but there seems to have been 
a curious consensus of commentators in regarding the 
expression as appertaining to the peculiar end of Isaiah 
as detailed in the Jewish story, which also seems to have 
been known to Josephus, as he speaks of Manasseh not 

1 See 2 Sam. xii. 31 ; Amos i. 3. 

2 The spot where this event took place is still pointed out tradi- 
tionally. It is marked by an ancient mulberry tree standing at the 
side of the Red, or Lower, Pool, a reservoir formed by the overflow 
from Siloam. 



sparing even the prophets of the Lord (Antiq. x. 3. 1). 
But there are early references to the book itself under 
different names. Justin Martyr, indeed, who, in his 
Dialogue with Tryplw the Jew (chap, cxx.), alludes to 
the death of Isaiah, does not mention our book by name, 
but he refers unmistakably to the tradition therein 
embodied. He is showing from the Old Testament the 
mission and character of Christ, and he tells his antagonist 
that, had the Jews understood the full import of such 
passages, they would have removed them from the text, 
as they have removed "those relating to the death of 
Isaiah, whom," he says, "ye sawed in pieces with a 
wooden saw." It is not clear what part of Scripture 
Justin supposes to -have been thus violently handled, 
but his reference to the mode of the prophet's death 
recalls the wording of the " Ascensio." There can, how- 
ever, be no mistake about Tertullian's acquaintance with 
the work, and with that part of it which is evidently 
of Jewish origin. In his treatise On Patience (chap, 
xiv.), he writes, "Exhibiting such powers of patience, 
Isaiah is cut asunder, and holds not his peace concerning 
the Lord." Evidently he has in view that passage of 
the Ascension given below, where it is said that 
Isaiah continued to converse with the Holy Spirit till 
he was sawn asunder. In the so-called Apostolical Con- 
stitutions (vi. 16), the work is mentioned among certain 
ancient productions and termed airoKpv^ov 'H&atov. 
The same name is given to it by Origen, who more 
than once appeals to it as his authority for the 
martyrdom, and derives other observations therefrom. 
In his Epistle to Africanus (chap, ix.), after remark- 


ing that the Jews were accustomed to remove from 
popular cognisance all things supposed to be derogatory 
to elders and judges, while preserving many of such 
facts in secret books, he instances the story of Isaiah, 
which, he says, is confirmed by the testimony of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, thus making the document that 
contains the legend of more ancient date than the Epistle. 
And he continues : " It is clear that tradition reports that 
Isaiah was sawn asunder ; and so it is stated in a certain 
apocryphal writing (ev TLVI aTro/cpv^y), which was perhaps 
purposely corrupted by the Jews who introduced incon- 
gruous readings in order to throw discredit on the whole 
narrative." So again, in the Commentary on St. Matthew 
(xiii. 57, xxiii. 37), he writes: "Now, if any refuse to 
receive this story because it is recorded in the Apocry- 
phon of Isaiah (ev rc5 apoKpv$u> 'Hvata), let him believe 
what is written in the Epistle to the Hebrews, even as 
the account of the death of Zechariah, slain between the 
temple and the altar, is to be believed on the testimony 
of the Saviour, though the tale was not drawn from the 
common and published books, but, as I suppose, from 
some apocryphal writing." His acquaintance with our 
book is still further expressed in one of his Homilies on 
Isaiah (torn. iii. p. 108), where the resemblance to a 
passage quoted below is perfectly obvious. " They say 
that Isaiah was cut asunder by the people, as one who 
depraved the law and spoke beyond what Scripture 
authorised. For Scripture says, No one shall see my 
face and live ; but he says, I saw the Lord of Hosts. 
Moses, they say, saw Him not, and thou didst see Him ! 
And for this cause they cut him asunder and condemned 


him as impious." Quoted from memory, as this doubt- 
less was, it is sufficiently close to the original to show 
whence it was derived. St. Ambrose (in Ps. cxviii. 
torn. i. p. 1124) refers to Satan's attempt to make Isaiah 
save his life by apostasy, narrated in chap. v. of the 
Ascension. " It is recorded by many that a certain 
prophet, being in prison, and in danger of immediate 
execution, was thus addressed by the devil : Say that 
the Lord hath not spoken by thee in all that thou hast 
uttered, and I will turn all men's hearts and affections 
to thee, so that they who now are wroth at thy offence 
shall be the first to pardon thee." The author of the 
Opus imperfectum on St. Matthew, inserted among the 
works of St. Chrysostom, which is assigned to the fifth 
century, gives some details which must have been derived 
from what is now the first and second chapters of our 
book. He is commenting on the name Manasseh in 
the genealogy of our Lord, and he asserts, resting on the 
etymology of the word, " one who forgets," that he was 
proleptically so called, because he would forget all the 
holy conversation of his father and all the benefits which 
he had received, and at the instigation of the devil would 
do everything to provoke the anger of the Lord. This, 
as we shall see below, is in exact agreement with the 
beginning of the martyrdom in our book. But there 
is more than this. The passage that follows is evidently 
borrowed from the proSmium of the Apocryphon, as a 
comparison with the words in brackets will show : " Now 
when Hezekiah was sick at a certain time, and Isaiah 
the prophet came to visit him, he called for his son 
Manasseh, and began to admonish him that he ought 


to fear God, and told him how to reign, and many other 
things. (It came to pass in the twenty-sixth year of the 
reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah, that he sent for his 
only son Manasseh, and called him before Isaiah, the son 
of Amos, the prophet, and before Josab, the son of Isaiah, 
that he might deliver unto him the words of truth in 
which he had himself been instructed . . . and the 
truths relating to the faith of the Beloved which had 
been communicated to him in the year of his reign when 
he was visited with sickness.) And Isaiah said unto 
him : These words of mine do not descend into thy son's 
heart, and therefore I myself must needs die by his hand. 
(And Isaiah spake unto King Hezekiah in the presence of 
Manasseh, and said : As God liveth, Manasseh thy son 
will surely disregard all these precepts and words, and 
by the deed of his hands, with great torment of body, 
shall I depart this life.) When Hezekiah heard this, he 
wished to kill his son, saying: It is better for me to die 
childless than to leave a son who will provoke the wrath 
of God, and persecute His saints. (When Hezekiah heard 
this he wept abundantly, rent his garments, put dust 
upon his head, and fell upon his face. . . . And Hezekiah 
secretly intended to kill his son Manasseh.) But the 
prophet Isaiah restrained him with difficulty, saying : 
May God frustrate this thy purpose ; for he saw the 
piety of Hezekiah, that he loved God better than his 
son. (But Isaiah said : In these things I cannot 
indulge thee . . . the beloved hath frustrated thy pur- 
pose, and the thought of thy heart shall not be ful- 
filled.") Epiphanius l attests that certain heretics of 
1 Epiphan. Hceres. Ixvii. 3 (p. 712) ; xl. De Archonticis (p. 292). 


the third century made use of our work, which he calls 
TO avaftarucbv (Ascensio) 'Haatov, to support their 
opinions. Thus one Hieracas,. an Egyptian heresiarch, 
grounded his position that Melchisedek (of whom it is 
said, Heb. vii. 3, that he was like the Son of God, and 
abideth a priest continually) was the Holy Spirit, upon 
certain passages in chaps, ix. and xi. of the Ascension. 
" The angel showed me of all things before me, and 
said : Who is this on the right hand of God ? And I 
answered : Thou knowest, Lord. And he said : This 
is the Beloved. (I beheld one standing whose glory 
surpassed all things. . . . This is the Lord of all the 
glory which thou hast beheld.) And who is the other 
like unto Him coming on the left hand ? And I 
answered : Thou knowest. This is the Holy Spirit that 
speaketh in thee and in the prophets. And He was like 
to the Beloved. (While I was conversing, I perceived 
another glorious being, who was like to Him in appear- 
ance. . . . The second which I saw was on the left hand 
of my Lord. And I asked : Who is this ? And he 
replied : Worship Him, for this is the angel of the Holy 
Spirit who speaketh in thee and other saints. ... I 
perceived that He sat down on the right hand of that 
great glory. I perceived likewise that the angel of the 
Holy Spirit sat down on the left hand.") Epiphanius 
says of the Archontici (a sect who held that the world 
was created by angels, and that there were seven heavens, 
each presided over by an archon or ruler) that they derive 
their tenets from the 'Avafian/cbv 'H&aiov, and other 
apocryphal works. The statement on which they relied 
is found in the seventh and following chapters of the 


Ascension, where Isaiah's passage through the seven 
heavens, with their presiding angels, is described. The 
work was also known to St. Jerome, who refers to it in 
his commentary on Isa. Ixiv. 4 : " From of old men 
have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath 
the eye seen a God beside Thee, which worketh for him 
that waiteth for Him." l After comparing the analogous 
passage in 1 Cor. ii. 9, he adds : " Ascensio enim Isaise 
et Apocalypsis Helias 2 hoc habent testimonium." We 
search in vain for this reference in the existing Ethiopia 
text, but it occurs as an interpolation in the Latin frag- 
ment printed at Venice, where we read (xi. 34): "The 
angel said unto me : This is sufficient for thee, Isaiah ; 
for thou hast seen what no other mortal man in the flesh 
hath ever beheld, what neither eye hath seen, nor ear 
hath heard, nor hath it risen into the heart of man what 
great things God hath prepared for all who love Him." 
There is no record of our work after this in the Fathers, 
though it is mentioned under the names Anabaticon, 
Ascensus, 'Haaiov opaais, in two or three catalogues of 
Scripture and apocryphal writings. 3 In the Apostolical 
Constitutions (vi. 16) a list of apocryphal works is 
given which are deemed pernicious and repugnant to the 

1 The passages above are quoted by Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigr. 
Vet. Test,, by Laurence, and by other writers. 

2 The Apocalypse of Elijah is mentioned in the Apostolical Con- 
stitutions (vi. 16), and by some of the Fathers, consisting, according 
to the Stichometria of Nicephorus, of 316 verses ; but the text has 
entirely perished. 

3 See the catalogue in Anastasius, Qucestiones et Responsiones, Lat. 
Bibl. Max. Patr. ix. ; and Sixtus Senensis, Bibl Sancta, i. The 
Ascensio occurs in the catalogue of The Sixty Books among 


truth ; among these appears anroKpv^ov 'H&aiov, which 
probably represents the Ascension. For some five or six 
centuries the book remained in obscurity ; then, for an 
instant, it crops up in the Qucvstiones et Responsiones of 
Anastasius in the eleventh century, where, in the cata- 
logue of canonical and apocryphal books, we find 'Haalov 
opaais, the Vision of Isaiah, which describes the second 
section of our work. Under the same name Euthymius 
Zigabenus denounces it as the origin of the heresy of the 
Messalians with regard to the Holy Trinity. Many of 
the Gnostic sects found support in the statements or 
wording of the Ascension, and it is said to have been 
employed in the same way by the Cathari of "Western 
Europe, the Albigenses, and similar sects. On the other 
hand, Archbishop Laurence adduces passages from the 
work in defence of orthodoxy against the Unitarians and 
depravers of the Gospel history, endeavouring, and with 
partial success, to show that the doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity and the miraculous conception and birth of our 
Lord were known to the author, as well as other events 
narrated in the Christian story. We shall meet with these 
statements when we investigate the contents of the book. 
A critical examination of the work confirms Dillmann's 
opinion that it consists of three or four sections composed 
by different authors and at different periods, and very 
clumsily arranged as a whole, the writer introducing the 
prophet as relating to Hezekiah his vision, after he has 
been recounting the deaths of Isaiah and the king. This 
inversion is accounted for by the mode in which the 
present work was put together. There is markedly a 
Jewish portion containing an account of the martyrdom 


of Isaiah, and a purely Christian portion embracing the 
ascension or vision of the prophet. Combining together 
these two divisions come a preface and conclusion of 
Christian origin, though the introduction displays a not 
very evident connection with what follows ; and inter- 
spersed occur many Jewish and Christian additions, in- 
terpolations, and supplements. The first part, which 
(according to Laurence's arrangement of the work into 
chapters and verses, is comprised in chaps, ii. 1-iii. 12, 
and v. 214) contains the details of the murder of Isaiah, 
and may be reasonably supposed to have some historical 
basis. Thus the account runs : " It came to pass after 
the death of Hezekiah that Manasseh reigned, who forgat 
his father's precepts, Sammael [= Satan] dwelling in 
him and adhering to him. He likewise ceased to worship 
the great and good God of his father, serving Satan, and 
his angels, and his hosts. And he changed in his father's 
house the words of wisdom which had been in the pre- 
sence of Hezekiah and the worship of Almighty God 
(Eth. 1 ). And he turned his heart to serve Berial (Belial). 2 

1 " Eth." refers to tlie Ethiopia text of Laurence translated by him 
and by Dillmann, " Gr." to the Greek text edited by Gebhardt. The 
latter here has, " he turned aside all the power of his father from the 
service and worship of Almighty God, and they served the devil and 
his angels." . . . This is in agreement with 1 Cor. x. 20 : " the 
things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice unto devils." 
Kabbinical writers continually refer to Sammael as using the serpent 
to tempt Eve (see the Targum on Gen. iii. 1, 6) ; and he plays a 
great part in the death of Moses. 

2 Berial, and elsewhere by transposition Beliar, which occurs con- 
tinually in the Testimony of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Book of 
Jubilees, is the same as Belial, and is used as an appellative of Satan. 
In the New Testament, where it occurs, 2 Cor. vi. 15, all the best 
MSS. give 


(Now Serial is the angel of iniquity, holding the dominion 
of this world, 1 whose name is Matanbukus, 2 and he rejoiced 
over Jerusalem on account of Manasseh, and held him 
firmly in his perversion and in the impiety which he 
disseminated in the city. 3 ) Magic likewise was multiplied 
there ; incantation, augury, divination, fornication, adul- 
tery, and the persecution of the righteous, by Manasseh, 
by Balkira, by Tobias the Canaanite, by John of Anathoth, 
and by Zalik Nevaj. 4 Now when Isaiah, the son of 
Amos, saw the manifold iniquity which was committed 
in Jerusalem, the worship of Satan, and the wanton con- 
versation, he fled from the city, and dwelt in Bethlehem 
of Judsea. But finding that much impiety existed there 
also, he took up his abode upon a mountain in the wilder- 
ness. Then Micah the prophet, and Ananias the aged, 
and Joel, and Habbakuk, and Josab, his son, and many 
others who believed in the ascension into heaven, with- 
drew themselves, and dwelt upon the same mountain. 
All these were clothed in sackcloth ; all were prophets, 
having nothing with them, naked and destitute ; 5 and all 
lamented with great lamentation the defection of Israel. 
And they had no food to eat except the wild herbs which 
they plucked upon the mountain and cooked as they 
could ; and they and Isaiah remained among the hills 

1 Comp. John xii. 31, xvi. 11 ; 2 Cor. iv. 4 ; Eph. ii. 2, vi. 12. 

2 Elsewhere written Mekembekus. Its origin and its meaning are 
alike unknown. 

3 This paragraph is probably a later Jewish addition. 

4 The last name is inexplicable, and the history of the persons 
mentioned is unknown. Balkira is sometimes confused with Malkira ; 
but the latter seems to be identified with Sammael. 

5 One is again reminded of the passage in Heb. xi. 37, 38. 


two whole years. Afterwards, while they continued in 
the wilderness, there was a certain man in Samaria, named 
Balkira, of the kindred of Zedekiah, son of Canaan, a 
false prophet, who dwelt at Bethlehem. Zedekiah, the 
brother of his father, was he who, in the days of Ahab, 
king of Israel, was the master of four hundred prophets 
of Baal, and who smote upon the cheek and reproved 
Michaiah, the son of Amida. . . . Now Balkira perceived 
and marked the place where were Isaiah and the prophets 
with him ; for he dwelt at Bethlehem, and was attached 
to Manasseh. He also prophesied falsehood in Jerusalem, 
where many consorted with him, though he was a Samari- 
tan. . . . Now Balkira accused Isaiah and the other 
prophets, saying : Isaiah and his companions prophesy 
against Jerusalem and against the cities of Judah, saying 
that they shall be laid waste, and that Benjamin also shall 
go into captivity, and against thee, king, that in a cage 1 
and in iron chains thou shalt be carried off. They also 
prophesy falsely against Israel and Judah. Isaiah says : I 
see more than Moses the prophet saw ; Moses asserted, 
No man can see God and live ; but Isaiah says, I have 
seen God, and, behold, I live. Know, therefore, king, 
that these are false prophets. Jerusalem also Isaiah has 
called Sodom, and the princes of Judah and Jerusalem 
has he declared to be people of Gomorrah. Thus he 
constantly accused Isaiah and the prophets before 
Manasseh. Now Berial dwelt in the heart of Manasseh, 
as well as in the hearts of the princes of Judah and 
Benjamin, and of the eunuchs and counsellors of the 

1 "In cavea," Dillm. ; y*teyp*is t Gr. ; "Galeagra," Frag. Vat. 
Comp. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11 ; Ezek. xix. 9, Sept. 


king. And the accusation of Balkira pleased him 
exceedingly ; and Manasseh sent and apprehended Isaiah. 
For Berial was very wroth with Isaiah on account of the 
vision, concerning the advent of Messiah, 1 and sawed him 
asunder with a wooden saw. 2 Now while they were 
sawing him, Balkira stood by accusing him, and all the 
false prophets stood there deriding and triumphing over 
him. Yea, Balkira and Mekembekus stood before him 
uttering derision and reproaches. Then Beliar said to 
Isaiah : ' Say, I have lied in everything which I have 
spoken, and the ways of Manasseh are good and right, 
and good are the ways of Balkira and those who are with 
him.' This he said to him when they began to saw 
him. But Isaiah was in a vision of the Lord, with his 
eyes open, and he beheld them. 3 Then Malkira (i.e. 
Beliar) thus addressed him : ' Say that which I tell thee, 
and I will turn their hearts, and will compel Manasseh, 
and the princes of Judah, and the people, and all Jer- 
usalem, to reverence thee.' But Isaiah answered and 
said : ' If the matter rests with me, cursed art thou in 
every word that thou speakest, thou, and all thy hosts, 
and all thy followers ; for thou canst not deprive me of 

1 We pass on here to chap, v., the intervening portion being an 
interpolation giving an account of the vision, which is afterwards 
expanded and augmented by new particulars, containing the history 
of Jesus and His Church. 

2 So Eth. In the Greek legend the king orders him to be sawed 
asunder with an iron saw ; but the instrument, though plied for 
some hours, is unable to enter his flesh. Then Isaiah reminds 
Manasseh that it is ordained that he shall be sawed in pieces with a 
wooden saw ; the tool accordingly is changed, and the execution is 

3 In the account of the vision given later, chap. vi. 10, the prophet 
is rapt in ecstasy, and does not see the men who stand before him. 


more than the skin of my body/ Then they seized 
Isaiah, the son of Amos, and sawed him asunder with a 
wooden saw. And Manasseh and Balkira and the false 
prophets, the princes and the people, all stood looking on. 
But Isaiah said to the prophets who were with him, before 
he was cut asunder : 'Go ye into the country of Tyre 
and Sidon, for the Lord Almighty hath mixed the cup for 
me alone.' And neither, while they were sawing him, 
did he cry out nor weep, but he continued in converse 
with the Holy Spirit till he was sawn asunder." 

Such, with a few omissions which merely add some 
particulars concerning persons named, is the original 
Jewish account of the martyrdom of Isaiah. This, as we 
have seen, was known to the early Fathers. Eound it 
have gathered various legends and accretions, which the 
critical acumen of scholars has now separated from the 
body of the work and assigned to different authorship 
and later periods. But the simple record itself is founded 
on Jewish tradition which still exists in Talmudic 
writings, though there is some variety in details, one 
story being that the prophet, flying from his enemies, was 
miraculously hidden by a carob-tree which swallowed 
him up ; and that workmen came and sawed down the 
tree, when the blood of Isaiah flowed. 1 In this portion 
of the work there is no trace of a Christian hand ; all is 
unmistakably Jewish, and is filled with Jewish names, 
Berial, Sammael, Matambukus, Balkira, Malkira, etc. ; so 
that we may regard the section as an independent 
pamphlet, embodying a very ancient tradition, widely 
disseminated and largely credited. 

1 See Laurence, pp. 151 ff. 


The second division of the present book is an account 
of the Ascension or Vision of Isaiah composed by a 
Christian Jew, and probably in its original form quite 
distinct from the treatises with which it was afterwards 
associated. In the Venetian edition it appears as a com- 
plete work, with the title, Visio mirabilis Ysaice Prophetce, 
etc., and concluding with the words, "Explicit visio 
Ysaise Prophetse." It is found in chaps, vi. 1-xi. 1, 
23-40 (Eth.), the gap in chap. xi. between vers. 1 and 
23, which in the existing Ethiopic is occupied by a 
Christian interpolation, being supplied by a few words in 
the Venetian edition, where the interpolation is not 
inserted. It is separated from the rest of the work in 
the Abyssinian book by a distinct heading : " The vision 
which Isaiah, the son of Amos, saw in the twentieth year 
of the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah." Herein Isaiah 
recounts to the king, his own son Josab, and the 
assembled prophets how that he was rapt in spirit and 
conducted by an angel through the firmament to the 
highest heaven, and shown first all the mysteries of the 
six lower spheres, and at last those of the seventh 
heaven, as well as Christ's future advent on the earth ; 
His descent into hell ; His return and glorious Ascension 
through each of the seven heavens in reward of the 
redemption which He won. Of this narrative the follow- 
ing particulars will give some idea. While Isaiah was 
conversing with Hezekiah on the subject of righteousness 
and faith, all those who were gathered there heard the 
door of the chamber opened and the voice of the Spirit, 
and they all fell down and worshipped the glorious God. 
And Isaiah held converse with the Holy Spirit : his soul 


was rapt in ecstasy ; he no longer saw the men who were 
before him ; his eyes were open, his mouth silent, yet he 
continued to breathe ; and he beheld a vision which was 
shown to him by an angel sent from the highest heaven, 
whose glory and office were inexpressibly great, but his 
name was concealed. First, he was taken to the fir- 
mament where Sammael and his powers reigned, and 
were at continual strife with one another, even as the 
battle is always raging on earth, and will continue till 
He that is coming shall appear and put an end to it. 
Thence he mounts to the first heaven, where he sees a 
throne in the midst, and angels on the right hand and on 
the left glorifying One whom he saw not ; but those on 
the right were more splendid and more perfect than the 
others. In the second heaven the same scene, only more 
magnificent, is beheld ; and the prophet falls down to 
worship, but is checked by the angel, who bids him reserve 
his adoration till he reaches the seventh heaven. (Comp. 
Eev. xxii. 8, 9.) " For," he says, " above all the heavens 
and their angels thy throne is set, and thy clothing and 
thy crown which thou thyself shalt behold." The third 
heaven, whither Isaiah was next conducted, was notable 
for there being no mention there of what goes on in this 
world, though all is perfectly known. The fourth heaven 
was reached, and the glory of the angels and of Him that 
sat on the throne was still greater than before, the dis- 
tinction between those on the right and left hands being 
still maintained. The same effects still more intensified 
were found in the fifth heaven. But the sixth heaven 
was more glorious than any which he had seen, so that 
he deemed the brilliancy of the five lower spheres mere 


darkness in comparison with this. Here was no throne, 
and all the attendant angels were equal in splendour, the 
difference between the sides existing no longer ; and all 
invoked with one voice the First, the Father, and His 
Beloved, and the Holy Spirit. At this stage of his 
ascension, Isaiah received a dim intimation of the fate 
that awaited him viz. that he should participate in the 
lot of the Lord, a tree being concerned in the future of 
both (i.e. the wooden saw and the cross). It was further 
said to him : " When from an alien body by the angel 
of the Spirit thou hast ascended hither, then thou shalt 
receive the clothing which thou shalt behold, and other 
numbered, laid-up clothings shalt thou see ; and then thou 
shalt be equal to the angels in the seventh heaven." 
Hearing this, the prophet entreats that he may never 
again return to earth, but is told that his time is not yet 
accomplished, Then, lastly, he is raised to the aether of 
the seventh heaven. And the angel who dwells above 
the splendour of the sixth heaven would fain have 
prohibited his ascent ; but the Lord, whose name he 
cannot know while in the body, bade him come up, for 
his clothing was there. Arrived there, he saw a mar- 
vellous light and angels innumerable ; he saw also all the 
saints from Adam, Abel, and Enoch, not clothed upon 
with flesh, but vested in their heavenly clothing, yet not 
seated on thrones or decorated with crowns, for these 
latter glories they should not attain to until the Beloved 
has descended into the world in the form of man. 1 

1 The expression in the original Ethiopia is this : " He is made 
like unto your form, and they shall deem Him flesh and man." 
This looks like Docetism, but it may mean merely that man shall 


But the prince of this world will lay his hand on the 
Son of God, and hang Him on a tree, and slay Him, 
not knowing who He is ; and His descent to the 
earth shall be concealed also from the heavens. Then 
he shall descend into hell and make havoc there, and, 
having escaped from the angel of death, on the third 
day He shall rise, and shall continue in the world five 
hundred and forty-five days ; l and He shall ascend 
into the seventh heaven, and many of the saints shall 
ascend with Him, and then at length they shall receive 
their clothing, and thrones, and crowns. Then Isaiah is 
shown books in which were contained all the history of 
Israel : and everything that is done upon earth is known 
in this region. He is bidden worship One standing, 
whose glory was great and wonderful, and whom all the 
saints adored, but who was transformed into the likeness 
of an angel before Isaiah worshipped Him ; and also 
another glorious being on the left of the other, who, he 
was told, was the angel of the Holy Spirit who speaks in 
the saints and prophets. The great glory that was next 
revealed blinded him, and neither he nor the angels 
could look thereon ; only the saints were enabled to 
behold it. " Then," it is added, " I saw that my Lord 
worshipped, and the angel of the Holy Spirit, and both 

fail to recognise His divinity. The Venetian document lias simply : 
*' He shall be in your form." The rest of the clause, as well as the 
introduction of the name Christ here and elsewhere in the vision, is 
doubtless an interpolation. 

1 I.e. 365 + 180 days. This was an opinion held by the Valen- 
tin ians and Ophites, according to Irenaeus, Adv. Hceres. i. 1. 5 and i. 
34. This statement of time is absent from the old Latin version, and 
seems to be a heretical gloss which has crept into the text. 



together glorified God Almighty." l He to whom all the 
worship in heaven and earth is addressed, is the Highest, 
" the Father of my Lord ; " and He sends forth the Lord 
Christ into the earth, even unto the infernal regions, and 
no one, not even the angels of the lower heavens, know 
who or what He is, as He assimilates His form to that 
of the inhabitants of the various regions through which 
He passes, till the time come when judgment shall be 
executed on the evil principalities and powers, and He 
shall ascend with great glory and sit at the right hand 
of God. 2 Then He is recognised, and all the saints and 
angels adore Him, while He sits at the right hand of the 
great Glory, and the angel of the Holy Spirit is seated 
on the left hand. Having seen and heard these things, 
Isaiah is dismissed, and his spirit returns to earth to 
wait till the time of his martyrdom is fulfilled. It is 
far from improbable that the author of this section was 
acquainted with the Eevelation of St. John, if we may 
judge from the language and images which he employs, 
though unhappily his loose and unqualified expressions 
bore a very different meaning to Arians and other 

Such is the second portion of our book, which, together 
with the first part containing the martyrdom, is combined 
into one volume by additions in the form of prelude and 
epilogue, which may be called the third part, and which is 
comprised in chap. i. (excepting vers. 3 and 4a) and the 

1 The error which endeared the treatise to heretics leaks out here. 

2 The passage which here follows in Eth. (chap. xi. 2-22) contains 
a garbled account of the birth of Christ, and of His life and death. 
It does not occur in the old Latin, nor in the Greek version edited 
by Gebhardt, and seems to be out of place in the vision. 



two final verses of chap. xi. This part merely repeats 
the information, that Hezekiah in the twenty-sixth year 
of his reign delivered to Manasseh, in the presence of 
Isaiah and Josab, the visions which had been imparted 
to himself and the prophet, and impressed upon him 
certain warnings and instructions ; all of which Manasseh 
soon forgot and disobeyed ; and Isaiah predicted his own 
death at the command of Manasseh. These brief details 
are amplified by some rabbinical and Christian fictions. 
The tractate thus arranged has been at various times 
increased and decorated by many additions and supple- 
ments, the work of Christian hands, so that what 
Dillrnann terms Part IV. contains a large amount of the 
present text viz. chaps, iii. 13 v. 1, xi. 222, 41, i. 3, 
4&, v. 15, 16. Of the first part of this section, viz. 
chaps, iii. 13 v. 1, there is, as we have said, no trace in 
the Greek legend lately published, which certainly con- 
tains extracts from the other three divisions of the work, 
and hence we may conclude that it was a separate 
tractate not at first connected with our book. In this 
fourth section we have not only an account of Manasseh's 
crime, but also an apocalypse of Christ's life upon earth, 
and the fate of the Christian Church between the Lord's 
ascension into heaven and His return to judgment. 
We may note a few points worthy of observation in this 
section. The rancour of Berial against Isaiah is here 
stated to be caused by the prophet's vision and denuncia- 
tion of Sammael, and revelation respecting the coming of 
the Beloved, and the doings of His twelve followers. 
Christ's sepulchre is opened on the third day by the 
angel of the Christian Church which is in heaven, and 


the angel of the Holy Spirit, and the archangel Michael. 
The term " angel of the Spirit " occurs, as we have seen, 
elsewhere in our book (cf. xi. 4), and is supposed by 
Dillmann to be used, because in the later writings of the 
Old Testament an angel is represented as discharging the 
prophetical office of the Spirit, e.g. in Zechariah, where 
the visions are unfolded by the angel that talked with him. 
Thus in the Pastor of Hermas we read of " the angel of the 
prophetical spirit," and in the Apocalypse of Baruch there 
is mention of " Eamiel who presides over the visions of 
truth." And by a loose kind of terminology all the 
inhabitants of heaven, save God the Father, are called 
angels ; even as Origen speaks of " the two seraphim 
with six wings, the only-begotten Son of God, and the 
Holy Ghost." l In this portion of the book Isaiah fore- 
tells the existence of great disputes respecting the second 
coming of Christ, many on this subject forsaking the 
doctrine of the apostles, a fact which we know also from 
St. Peter's own words and from expressions of others, 
e.g. Clemens Eomanus. 2 There shall be multitudes of 
iniquitous " elders and pastors, oppressors of their flocks," 
and but few prophets or teachers of assured truths, on 
account of the worldliness and vice which shall prevail. 
Before the end Antichrist will come, Berial, the prince 
of this world. Here we have an enunciation of the 
curious myth concerning Nero which is found in the 
Sibylline Oracles. 3 According to this opinion, Berial 

1 Herm. Past. Hand. xi. 9 ; Apoc. Bar. Iv. 3 ; Orig. De Princip. i. 3. 

2 2 Pet. iii. 1 ff. ; Clem. Eom. Epist. ad Cor. xxiii. 

3 Orac. Sibyll. ii. 167, iii. 63, iv. 119, where see Alexandras note, 
and the account in our next section. 


descends from the firmament in the form of this impious 
monarch, " the matricide ; " in his hand are all the 
powers of this world and the material forces of nature, 
and he shall use them to draw men unto him, and create 
a very wide Apostasy, so that numbers believe in him 
and serve him, and own him as God. This evil dominion 
lasts for three years, seven months, and twenty-seven 
days, the duration here specified being a little longer 
than the forty-two months of canonical Scripture ; l but 
the writer has arranged the 1335 days named at the 
end of Daniel's prophecy according to the Julian com- 
putation. It is interesting to note this quasi-solution of 
the " Beast" of St. John's Eevelation (xiii. 17, 18). 
Jolowicz 2 reckons that, taking the death of Nero as 
happening June 9, A.D. 68, the reign of Berial would 
begin October 29, A.D. 64. At the close of this reign, 
." after 332 days" 3 the Lord shall come from the seventh 
heaven with all His angels and saints, and shall cast 
Berial and his companions into Gehenna ; and the 
resurrection shall then take place, and the final judg- 
ment. To the holy who shall be found on earth rest 
(aveats, 2 Thess. i. 7) shall be given, and they shall be 
clothed with heavenly garments, and associated with the 
saints who descend with the Lord, and they shall leave 

1 Dan. vii. 25, xii. 7 ; Kev. xiii. 5. Comp. Dan. xii. 12. Georgius 
Cedrenus, quoted by Dillmann, says that " in the Testament of King 
Hezekiah Isaiah asserts that Antichrist shall reign for three years 
and seven months, being 1290 days." 

2 Himmelfahrt und Vision des Proph. Jesaia, p. 9. 

3 It seems probable that the numerals are here corrupt, and that 
" one thousand " has fallen out at the beginning, and that the " five " 
at the end has been changed into " two," the original number being, 
as above, 1335. 


their bodies in the world. There is no mention here, or 
elsewhere, of any millennial opinions, nor is Christ 
expected to reign on earth. He comes to judge and to 
" consume all the ungodly, who shall be as if they had 
never been created." 1 There are two or three other 
points in this section worthy of attention. The last 
portion (xi. 222) is occupied with the life of Christ on 
earth, wherein can be recognised some of the additions 
contained in the spurious Gospels. To induce Joseph 
not to put away Mary, " the angel of the Spirit appears 
in the world ; " Joseph does not approach her, but guards 
her as a holy virgin ; after two more months the pair 
were alone in the house together, " and while Mary was 
gazing on the ground she suddenly perceived with 
astonishment an infant lying before her, and found that 
she had been delivered of a child." Joseph, observing 
what had come to pass, " glorified God because the Lord 
had come to His inheritance." He is warned to tell 
the occurrence to no one, lest the Divine nature of the 
child should be divulged. But reports were circulated 
in Bethlehem, some saying that the Virgin Mary was 
confined before she had been two months married ; others 
affirming that she did not bring forth at all ; for " all 
knew about Him, but knew not whence He was ; " and 
He " was concealed from all the heavens, and the 
principalities, and the gods of this world." This last 
assertion is found in many passages of the Fathers, 

1 This expression does not necessarily point to the absolute 
annihilation of the wicked ; it is parallel to the words in Job x. 19 : 
" I should have been as though I had not been ; I should have been 
carried from the womb to the grave." 


and notably in the Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 
(xix.), where it is said that the prince of this world 
comprehended neither the virginity of Mary, nor her 
bearing of the child, nor the death of the Lord. 1 Christ's 
descent into hell is plainly affirmed, the expression 
being in one place (xi. 19), " He descended to the angel " 
(i.e. of death), and in another (iv. 21), "the descent of 
the Beloved to the infernal regions." The old Latin of 
ix. 1 5 adds particulars not in the Ethiopic version : 
" He shall descend into hell, and make it desolate and all 
its visions, and shall seize the prince of death, and shall 
make him His prey, and confound all his powers." And 
in an earlier passage (x. 8) a distinction is drawn between 
hell (inferi) and the abyss of perdition (dbaddon) ; the 
latter region Christ does not enter. It is " the pit of the 
abyss " of St. John (Rev. ix. 1, etc.). Isaiah adds that 
this event in the life of the Beloved is written in the 
section of his prophecy where the Lord says, " Behold 
my servant shall understand." This can refer only to 
chap. lii. 13, where we read: "Behold, my servant shall 
do wisely," which is the introduction to the famous 
Messianic chapter liii. The following paragraph is 
remarkable : " All these things are written in Psalms : 
in the Parables of David the son of Jesse, and in the 
Proverbs of Solomon his son, and in the words of Kore, 
and Ethan the Israelite, and in the words of Asaph, and 
in the rest of the Psalms, which the angel of the Spirit 
has inspired ; also in the words of those whose name is 
not inscribed, and in the words of Amos, my father," 

1 References will be found in the commentators on the above 
passage of Ignatius, e.g. Funk, p. 187. 


and of the other eleven minor prophets, " and in the 
words of righteous Joseph and Daniel." Here, we may 
note, " Psalms " is a general title, including what 
follows ; " Parables " would be applied to the didactic 
poems in the Psalter, called Maschil in the titles. The 
composite authorship of the Psalter is acknowledged, the 
songs of the sons of Korah being distinguished from those 
of Ethan and Asaph. Ethan is called " Israelite " by the 
LXX. (Ps. Ixxxviii. 1), where the Hebrew gives "Ezra- 
hite." It is strange that neither Jeremiah nor Ezeldel 
are mentioned ; but Nitzsch gives a parallel from the 
Second Book of Esdras i. 39, 40, 1 where the twelve 
minor prophets are enumerated, and none of the four 
greater ones. The confusion between Amos the prophet 
and Amoz the father of Isaiah is not peculiar to our 
author ; even the great Clemens Alexandrinus fell into 
the same error, owing to ignorance of Hebrew. What is 
to be understood by " the words of Joseph " is a dis- 
puted question. Dillmann conjectures that the ex- 
pression refers to a pseudepigraphal work mentioned by 
Eabricius, 2 and entitled The Prayer of Joseph, 3 though it 
is not clear why this spurious book should be alone 
named among the canonical writings specified. 

Having thus briefly examined the contents of the 
whole work, we are in a position to consider its origin 
and date. 

That the book was written originally in the Greek 

1 The Fourth Book in the old Latin. 

2 God. Pseud. Vet. Test. i. 761 if. 

3 In the Ghronographia of Nieephoms among the Old Testament 
Apocrypha occurs TLpwsvxn 'luoqQ, containing 1100 verses ; it is also 
found in Montfaucon's Catalogue. 


language might be presupposed from the ascertained 
source of analogous works which have "been found in 
Abyssinia; the presumption is confirmed by internal 
evidence. We are often confronted with expressions 
which are plainly derived from, or are clumsy or 
erroneous renderings of, Greek terms. Thus an angel is 
sent expressly from the seventh heaven to make a 
revelation to the prophet ; but in vii. 21 we read : 
"Worship not the throne of him who is of the sixth 
heaven, from whence I have been sent to conduct thee, 
. . . worship in the seventh heaven ; " where the 
translator has been misled by the oOev, which here means 
" wherefore." The Venetian edition gives " propter hoc." 
Again, what is evidently C avrov in the original (iii. 13) 
is translated " on account of him," instead of " by means 
of him." " He who rests in the saints " is o ev aytoi? 
avaTravoiJLevos (vi. 8) ; in vii. 9 the translator has con- 
fused 6/jLL\la with o/LuXo?, and given " speeches " instead 
of "assemblies ; " "I preserve thee," xi. 34, is a mistaken 
version of a7ra\\do-cra) ere, " I dismiss thee ; " iii. 26, 28 : 
" there shall be calumnies and calumniators many," " the 
spirit of empty honour (/cevoSogias) and of love of money " 
(fyikapyvpias) ; " the pious worshippers," rot? evcrefieai ; 
" Him of the great glory," TOV TT}? fj,e<yd\r]<; 80^779. 
Joseph " came unto her (Mary's) portion " (pepiSa), i.e. 
she was allotted to him as wife; where Dillmann com- 
pares the expression in Protevang. Jaccibi, viii. : &v 
KeK\7jpa)crai, rrjv irapOevov Kvptov Trapakafielv. There are 
many tokens of the use of the Greek version of the Old 
Testament. Thus we read, iv. 1 9 : " the remainder of the 
vision is written in the vision of Babylon." The 


reference is to Isa. xiii. 1, where the Hebrew has " the 
burden of Babylon," but the Septuagint, " the vision 
which Isaiah saw against Babylon." Again, Isa. lii. 1 3 is 
quoted (Ascens. iv. 21) thus: "Behold, my son shall 
understand," which is in accordance with the Greek, 
while the Hebrew gives, " My servant shall deal wisely." 
The Latin Vulgate, the Sibylline Oracles, and the Apos- 
tolical Constitutions agree here with the Greek and the 
Ascension. In calling Ethan "the Israelite," our book, 
as we have seen, reproduces the error of the Septuagint. 
Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah (1 Kings xxii. 11) is called 
(Ascens. ii. 12) "son of Canaan," which is the appellation 
given him by the LXX. In chap. iii. 2, it is stated that 
Shalmaneser carried away nine of the tribes captive to 
Media, " and the rivers of Tazon ; " the Hebrew has 
" Gozan," but some MSS. of the Septuagint show 
" Tazan," 2 Kings xvii. 6 and xviii. 11. There is 
evidence that the old Latin versions were rendered from 
the Greek ; thus where the Ethiopic gives " will destroy " 
as the translation of a certain word (vii. 12), one Latin 
version gives " interficiet," another " emundabit," which 
variety could arise only from the original verb being 
KaOapel or tca6aipr)(rei,. The presumption that the 
Abyssinian version was made from a Greek original is 
thus greatly confirmed. Indeed, throughout, so closely is 
the Greek followed that Dillrnann avows that it would be 
an easy task to retranslate the Abyssinian into the very 
wording of the original. That the present version was 
made in the earliest days of the Abyssinian Church is 
considered to be demonstrated by its agreement in diction 
with other similar works composed under the same circum- 


stances, by the occasional introduction of unusual or 
obsolete words, and by the uncertainty of the orthography 
which appertains to all primitive Ethiopic literature. 
But how it came to be thus honoured and preserved is a 
question not yet satisfactorily solved. Probably, as the 
" vision " was considered to support certain Gnostic or 
quasi - Gnostic opinions, it obtained currency in Egypt 
where such tenets prevailed, and the other sections were 
usually combined with it in one volume. Certainly 
Origen and Tertullian were acquainted only with the 
" martyrdom " proper, without any of the additions and 
interpolations afterwards added to it. 

The section containing the martyrdom is doubtless of 
purely Jewish origin, and of earlier date than the rest of 
the work. It is simply a legendary narrative, invented, 
or compiled from tradition, in order to glorify the 
prophet, and containing nothing apocalyptic. The 
author, or authors, of the remainder were Jewish Chris- 
tians, well versed in Hebrew lore and the legends which 
rabbinical literature had accumulated. The opinion that 
the heavens are seven in number is found in the Talmud, 
and in such works as the Testaments of the Twelve 
Patriarchs ; the name Sammael, for Satan, is a rabbinical 
term not occurring in Scripture ; 1 the notion of the 
clothing of souls being stored up in heaven in readiness 
for assumption at the proper moment is one that appears 
in Talmudic writings. 2 From such considerations we 

1 For rabbinical lore concerning Sammael, or Satan, consult Dr. 
Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, vol. ii. App. xiii. 

2 See Jolowicz, pp. 11 ff., where quotations from Talmudic works 
are given. 


may conclude what were the religion and nationality of 
the writer. The vision is founded on the fact that 
Isaiah is represented in Scripture as having seen the 
Lord. This, of course, was felt to be impossible in the 
ordinary sense of the words. The vision must be 
vouchsafed under supernatural conditions ; hence the 
prophet is raised to an ecstatic state ; his soul is 
separated from its earthly tenement, and is exalted to 
the highest heaven. Accordingly, the work which 
records this rapture is properly named 'AvaftaTLKov, 
Ascensio, as well as opaaw, visio. We find a similar 
double appellation applied to the Eevelation of St. John, 
which in the early Christian centuries was also known as 
'AvafiariKov. 1 There is no similar trance recorded in 
the Old Testament ; for an analogous transaction we 
must refer to the scene where the beloved apostle 
" became in the spirit on the Lord's day," or where St. 
Paul was caught up even to the third heaven, and carried 
into Paradise on another occasion, whether in the body or 
out of the body he knew not, and heard unspeakable 
words. 2 Both in St. Paul's case actually, and in that of 
Isaiah supposedly, the vision was granted in order to 
strengthen the recipients for the trials that awaited 
them, and to teach that all things are foreknown and 
foreordained, and that the troubles of this life are not 
worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be 

As regards the date of this production, we see that its 
various parts belong to different ages and authors. The 

1 Nitzsch in Stud, und Krit. 1830, i. 215. 

2 Rev. i. 10 ; 2 Cor. xii. 2-4. 


first section narrates an ancient Jewish tradition ; but 
there is nothing found therein to afford any indication of 
its age. If, as we have seen to be probable, it was 
known to Justin Martyr, it was composed at least 
towards the beginning of the second Christian century. 
It is, however, probably very much earlier, and may 
be regarded as pre-Christian, as it contains not the re- 
motest allusion to any but Jewish matters. But the 
ascension or vision contains many suggestions which 
would assign it to a period immediately succeeding 
the apostolic period, at any rate not later than the 
first ten years of the second century. 1 One recognises 
a compilation of ideas gathered from the New Testa- 
ment, and not yet reduced to a formal system or any 
authoritative statement. The spirit testified in old 
time the sufferings of Christ, which were not revealed 
unto the angels ; the Lord comes down from heaven ; 
ascends far above all heavens and principalities and 
powers, having overcome all enemies ; the beatitude of 
the saints of the old covenant is not perfected till the 
Eedeemer has triumphed ; the glory of the righteous 
exceeds that of the angels. Such facts as these, based 
on Holy Scripture, are overladen or interspersed with 
notions very alien from the simplicity and purity of 
apostolic doctrine, and indicating the taint of Hebrew and 
Gnostic error ; but it is Gnosticism in its early stage, as 
existing among the Essenes and Jewish sects, and recog- 
nised in some of the books of the New Testament. This 
section shows traces of having been edited and glossed 

1 These indications have been carefully noted by Dillmann, 
Nitzsch, and others. 


by a Christian of unorthodox sentiments, who held the 
malignity of matter, and many of Origen's opinions, and 
likewise views concerning Christ which Arians found 
agreeable to their minds. Of the doctrine of ^Eons and 
Emanations there seems to be no trace. The opinion touch- 
ing the seven heavens was current among the Jews before 
Christian times, and is found in many apocryphal works 
as well as in the Talmud. 1 The Homoousian controversy 
is unknown to the writer of the Ascension, who intro- 
duces statements which a later age justly branded with 
heresy. Thus he makes (ix. 37-40) the Son inferior to 
the Father ; and although he calls Him the Beloved, and 
Lord of all the heavens and thrones, whose voice alone 
they obey, he represents the Father as worshipped in 
heaven by Him and the Holy Ghost. It is true that 
They are supposed to have assumed the appearance and 
attitudes of angels when They pay this worship, but no 
one who held the Nicene faith would have made such a 
statement, which is evidently anterior to the closer 
definition of a later age. The assertion that Christ 
remained on the earth between His resurrection and 
ascension for one and a half years, or 545 days (ix. 16), 
was a very early error, known, as I have already 
mentioned, to Irenseus, and therefore extant in the 
second century. Indeed, in the earliest times the 
tradition of the Great Forty Days which afterwards 
obtained seems not to have been universally held. St. 
Luke, in his Gospel, apparently joins the Ascension 

1 Comp. Test. XII. Pair. " Levi," 2 and 3 ; and Wetstein's note on 
2 Cor. xii. 2. Authorities are given by Dillmann on vi. 13 of our 
book, and in Kitto's Cyclopoedia, art. " Heaven," note, p. 245. 


on to the resurrection, though in the Acts he speaks of 
Christ being seen at intervals during forty days ; none of 
the other evangelists mentions the length of His earthly 
sojourn in this interval. In the Epistle of Barnabas 
(chap, xv.), that Father omits all mention of any space of 
time intervening between Easter Sunday and the ascen- 
sion ; Bede reckons forty-three days ; so that opinion on 
this matter fluctuated, and had not arrived at a general 
conclusion in the primitive age. Another mark of high 
antiquity is found in the address to God (vi. 8, x. 6), 
" the God of righteousness, higher than the highest, that 
dwelleth in the saints," which recalls the expressions in 
the apostolical Father, Clemens Eomanus (Ep. ad Cor. 
lix. 3). The occasional allusions to the Parousia of 
Christ denote a primitive time. The question, as we 
know from references in the New Testament, 1 was largely 
debated in apostolic days, but ceased to have like interest 
in succeeding ages. In our author's view the Second 
Advent was close at hand, and there is in the work no 
trace of the early opinion being corrected by later 
circumstances or events. Again, the writer knows of 
only one persecution which takes place before the final 
judgment ; and this can be none other than that which 
was organised by Nero ; for he could not have omitted 
that under Domitian had he lived after that tyrant ; and 
we have seen above that he plainly adumbrated Nero, 
when he prophesied of the coming of Berial under the 
form of an impious king. And as he assigned the end 
of the world and the day of judgment to less than a year 
after this event, it is reasonable to conclude that this 
1 Comp. 2 Thess. ii. ; 2 Pet. iii. 


part of the treatise was composed at the beginning of 
A.D. 69. This inference, of course, proceeds on the 
assumption that the writer wishes his calculations to be 
understood literally ; if his allusions and statements are 
to be regarded as ideal, emblematical, visionary, no 
definition of time can be assigned to them, but the refer- 
ences to events which they contain indicate the age of 
the author. 

The apocalyptic section is of much the same antiquity. 
The corruptions of doctrine and practice spoken of in 
chap, iii., the disputes about the Second Advent, the vice 
and greed of the pastors who spared not their own flocks, 
the worldliness and immorality of professors of Chris- 
tianity, the envy and hatred even among the teachers 
of religion such errors and declensions are noticed 
both in the New Testament and in the writings of the 
earliest Fathers, such as Hernias. The organisation of 
the Church was evidently still in its infancy ; the rulers 
are called presbyters and pastors, and the title episcopus 
nowhere appears ; whereas in the Didache both episcopus 
and diaconus are found. Prophecy is not yet silenced, 
though greatly diminished, being confined to a few 
localities and persons. It is mentioned, we may remark, 
as extant in Hermas's days, and rules are given in the 
Pastor for distinguishing the real from the false pre- 
tender to inspiration ; and we meet with analogous 
statements in the Didache. These and such like hints 
indicate a primitive origin, and could not have been 
afforded by an age greatly exceeding the first Christian 
century. It is solely from internal evidence that we 
gather the date of this portion of the work, as none of 


the Fathers or early writers make any reference to it. 
Offering no special support of catholic dogma, or 
rather containing some very questionable statements 
and expressions, it was naturally disregarded and dis- 
countenanced by orthodox believers ; and, indeed, the 
whole work was brought into public notice only for 
polemical purposes, first by Gnostic controversialists, and 
afterwards by Arians, and it was from a collection of the 
writings of these latter heretics that the old Latin versions 
were obtained. 

From what has been said we may reasonably conclude 
that the purely Jewish section of our book was composed 
just before or in the first Christian century ; that the 
second portion, containing the " Ascension " or " Vision," 
is not of later date than the first ten years of the second 
century, after which it was known to various heretics, 
and used by them to confirm their erroneous opinions. 
The third and fourth parts are of somewhat later 
date, added probably towards the last half of the 
second century. The work continued known unto 
the fifth century, when it almost disappeared from 
notice, till rediscovered in the manner mentioned 
above, unless we may infer that it always formed 
part of the Abyssinian canon, and had never fallen out 
of use in the Church of that country, which, as we 
know, retained much of Hebrew ceremonial and senti- 

Unlike some of the apocryphal and pseudepigraphal 
books, the " Ascension " was never admitted to the 
catholic canon of Scripture. Opinion for some ages 
fluctuated as to the admissibility of the Wisdom of 



Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, etc. Some Con- 
ciliar and some private catalogues allowed their claim 
without hesitation ; others admitted them only to a 
secondary position ; but none assigned a first or even a 
second place to the " Ascension : " if it ever occurs in 
any of the lists it is mentioned as certainly apocryphal, 
and entitled to no respect as inspired. If, then, it be 
asked wherein lies its interest for us, we reply that it is 
a standing witness of the care taken in the early Church 
to confine the books of Scripture, in the highest sense, to 
those whose inspiration was approved by sufficient testi- 
mony. Shall we not say rather that the Holy Spirit 
guided the councils and authorities of the Church in 
their final arrangement of the canon, and that the 
rejection of such works as that which we have been 
considering was divinely ordered ? In point of antiquity, 
indeed, parts of it might probably compete with portions 
of the New Testament, but weighed in the scale with 
undisputed Scriptures, and tried by the standard of 
Catholic doctrine, it failed to stand the necessary test, 
and was deservedly rejected. 

It is interesting also for another reason. It affords a 
new example of that literature which, as we have said, 
has been called Pseudepigraphic, from the fact that the 
author writes under a false name, not so much with any 
intention of deceiving his readers, but with the view of 
obtaining a hearing for his own feelings and opinions. 

And, lastly, as we have seen in the sketch which we 
have given, the book is capable of conveying valuable 
hints concerning the history of the early Church, and 
the heresies then coming into existence ; and is a note- 


worthy contribution to that apocalyptic literature which 
prevailed so greatly in the centuries immediately 
preceding and succeeding the advent of Christ, and 
which even now for many minds possesses an absorbing 




THE work thus named is a collection of Judaeo-Christian 
poems, of various dates, designed to propagate certain 
ideas among heathens, and assuming this form in order 
to win acceptance in such quarters. Various deriva- 
tions have been suggested for the word Sibylla, and it 
has been attributed to the Hebrew and other Oriental 
languages; but many suppose that the word is really 
Greek, compounded of the ^Eolic 0-409 = #609 and /3oXXa 
or f3v\\a fiovXrj, 1 and thus meaning, counsel of God. 
However, it may well be doubted whether it is not a 
feminine form of the old Latin word sibus, meaning " wise." 
Persibus, or Persicus, is found in this sense in Plautus 
and Naevius, where it is explained by old grammarians 
as = peracutus. Hence the term signifies " wise woman, 
witch." The name was applied to any female who 
affected to foretell the future, so that it may be taken 
to mean an inspired prophetess, or, as Varro puts it, 
" cujus pectus numen recipit, et quse vaticinatur." She 
1 So Alexandre, Excurs. ad Sibyllina, pp. 1 f. 



is not an official priestess, but one abnormally influenced 
by the Deity. The most ancient authors speak of a 
Sibyl ; but this idea did not long continue, and we soon 
find them multiplied and assigned to different localities. 
The number of accredited Sibyls has been stated some- 
times as three or four, sometimes as ten ; and the writings 
that are current under their name have been increased 
by later discoveries from eight books to fourteen though 
the whole of these are not extant, of many of them 
isolated fragments alone having been preserved. That 
some lines of the ancient heathen poems have been 
preserved by classical authors is well known ; only one 
or two of these, however, as far as I know, are found in 
our present collection, though there are passages and 
expressions which show distinctly a pagan origin, as the 
account of the tower of Babel, quoted from a Sibyl by 
Josephus, 1 where it is said that the gods sent a mighty 
wind and overthrew the building. In Asia Minor and 
Greece the Sibyllines obtained only a private circulation, 
and were never officially collected or publicly used, 
though, even from the scanty notices existing, we gather 
that they exercised a very potent influence and were 
largely credited. The original Libri Sibyllini, with 
which the name of King Tarquin is connected, and 
which reached Eome from Asia by way of Cuma3, 
perished in the fire which consumed the temple of 
Jupiter Capitolinus, B.C. 82. Their place was supplied 
by a collection gathered from various places in Greece, 
Italy, and Asia Minor, and amounting to about 1000 
verses. This was revised by order of Augustus, and 
1 Antiq. I 4. 3. 


again by Tiberius ; but has been preserved only in 
fragments found in classical authors. The widespread 
belief in the authority of such productions led to the 
composition and circulation of a quantity of professed 
oracles, which demanded critical investigation, and re- 
ceived some such attention at the hands of the emperors 
Julian and Honorius. The verses, however, thus author- 
ised as genuine have not come down to us in their 
integrity, and what we know of them is little and 
unsatisfactory. Servius, in his commentary on Virgil, 
mentions a hundred as the number of these Sermones, 
and Suidas names twenty-four as the production of the 
Chaldsean Sibyls alone. How many more were attri- 
buted to the other Sibyls cannot be known. Our present 
collection is of Jewish and Christian origin, and can lay 
no claim to any high pagan antiquity. So common, 
indeed, had the forging of these poems become in early 
Christian times, that Celsus l sneers at Christian writers 
as Si/3o\\io-Tai, sibyl-mongers, or sibyl-believers. The 
exact relation of these later compositions to the early 
group it is impossible to determine. Their acceptance 
as authentic in an uncritical age is no argument in their 
favour ; but they seem to have been considered to pos- 
sess some supernatural authority, far inferior, of course, 
to that of Jewish prophets, but still originated by Divine 
influence. Doubtless the later Sibyls used some of the 
old material which was found ready to their hand, though 
it is now almost impossible to say what was borrowed 
from floating tradition. A line here and there, indeed, 
may be identified. Thus, as of heathen origin and pro- 
1 Orig. Cont. Gels. v. 6. 


bably remnants of old oracles or Sibylline verses, we 
may cite the punning couplet in iv. "71 and elsewhere : 

x,xl 2,Moi' difAfios olff 'oia a,v vir 1 qioveaai xoi' 
Be ircLvrat, TOC 

The Latin versifier has attempted to reproduce the 
second line thus : 

Et Delus, non jam Delus, deleta latebit. 

From the same source come some of the lines in 
Book iii., which, as we shall see, narrate the reign of 
Saturn and the demigods of pagan theology, beginning 
with the building of the Tower of Babel on the plains of 
Assyria, when all men were of one language, and were 
animated with the one desire of invading the starry 
heaven. This is partly scriptural ; but then follows a 
heathen episode : Chronos and Titan fight one with the 
other, but are reconciled by " Ehea and Guia and Aphro- 
dite, with her fair crown, and Demeter, and Vesta, and 
Dione with her beautiful locks." The birth of Zeus 
gives occasion for a wonderful piece of etymology. To 
save him from the fate of her previous children, Ehea 
sent (SteVe/Mjre) him away to Phrygia secretly, hence 
they call him Aia because SteTre/^fl?/." On a par with 
this derivation is that of Hades (i. 85), which takes its 
name from Adam, who was the first to enter it, the 
death of Abel being ignored for philological purposes. 1 
Another etymology, not unrecognised by the Fathers, 2 
is given to this name in Book iii. 26, which Alexandre 

1 I. 82 f. : "At^Yiv B' C&VT ix.dihtaau.V) eirsl irparos ftotev ' 

yevtrotftsvos 6avoe,rw^ yctiot, Be ttiv 

2 Alexandre, p. 350 (iii. 26). 


calls " ingeniose absurdus." Here it is commended as a 
name of four letters which represent the four quarters of 
the earth, as the Latin versifier writes : 

Qui nomine solo 
Occasus ortusque refert boreamque notumque. 

In the original : 

Avaw re 'Me<rYi l u,fifiai/ re x,xl "Apxrov. 

Another paragraph owed to heathen sources is one con- 
cerning the destruction of Troy (iii. 414 ff.), where 
Helen is called " the Erinnys from Sparta," which re- 
minds one of Virgil's " Trojte et patrise communis 
Erinnys " (dUn. ii. 578) ; and another where Homer, " the 
blind old man who writes lies," is accused of plagiarising 
from the Sibyl whose oracles he was the first to use. 1 
Diodorus mentions this accusation as made by the Ery- 
thraean Sibyl, and is not referring to our present book. 

The primary cause of the composition of these pro- 
ductions is not far to seek. Given the existence of a 
body of such prophetical utterances among the heathen, 
which were considered of superhuman authority and 
universally credited, it fell naturally into the mind of 
Jew and Christian to endeavour to gain acceptance for 
the truths which they had to teach, not only by tracing 
these truths in the extant words of poet and prophetess, 
but also by themselves expressing them in the form and 
under the guise of Sibylline inspiration. The mystery 
that enveloped these oracles greatly helped the impersona- 
tion, and the authors thought themselves quite justified 
in their undertaking if by this means they might insinu- 
1 Alexandra, p. 356. 


ate the truths of God's unity and righteousness, and 
disseminate the hopes which animated their breasts. 
That the Sibylline Oracles were held in high honour 
during the early Christian centuries is proved by the 
frequent appeals to them made by the Fathers. The 
list of the writers who thus used them includes the 
names of Athenagoras, Theophilus, Justin Martyr, Lac- 
tantius, Clemens Alexandrinus, Eusebius, and Augustine. 
Some of these authors apparently were acquainted only 
with the heathen books ; others, as Clemens Alexandrinus 
and Lactantius,. cite passages of pagan, Jewish, and 
Christian authorship ; and while some attribute to them 
an authority almost conclusive, others quote them with 
reserve, and own that their testimony is disputed and not 
always of decisive importance. 1 

Every one is familiar with the verse of the "Dies 
Ine," which, if an interpolation, at any rate proves the 
estimation in which the Sibyl was held : 

Dies irae, dies ilia, 
Solvet ssecla in favilla, 
Teste David cum Sibylla. 

The manufacture of Sibylline verses continued for some 
centuries. It was natural and easy to employ this means 
of disseminating correct opinions among piously-disposed 
minds. What had been done by heathen Greeks might 
become a power for good in Jewish and Christian hands. 
For two centuries before Christ writers used this form to 
propagate Jewish opinions ; in the early days of the 
Christian era, Sibyllines attempted to force Christian 

1 Comp. Euseb. Constant. Or. ad. Sanct. Ccet. i. 19 ; August. De 
Civit. xviii. 17 ; Gout. Faust, xiii. 2. 


views into prominence in pagan circles. Existing poems 
were largely used, adopted, and published. Imitations 
were freely made, and these additions to the already 
copious collection enlarged the stock to an unwieldy 
extent, which defied every effort at order or classifica- 
tion. Every writer allowed himself full liberty of in- 
serting his lucubration wherever he chose ; isolated 
fragments, therefore, abound, many duplicates occur, and 
the result is confused and chaotic. But as paganism 
disappeared, and Christianity grew stronger and less in 
need of such adventitious support, the composition of 
Sibylline verses gradually ceased, and no additions to the 
collection seem to have been made since the fourth 
century. The use of them dying out, their existence 
became forgotten, and in the Middle Ages the Greek text 
seems to have been unknown. Of course the passages 
quoted by the early Fathers and the Christian apo- 
logists, and the testimony borne to the "Prophetess," 
as Clemens Alexandrinus calls her, served to keep alive 
the knowledge of the existence of such writings ; but the 
collection of oracles gathered into books, such as we now 
possess, was not current ; and from their very mystery 
and obscurity these unknown verses were regarded with 
more respect and deference than their intrinsic merits 

The literary history of the Sibyllines is soon told. 
The earliest known quotation is that mentioned above 
concerning the building of the Tower of Babel. This is 
cited by Alexander Polyhistor, who lived between B.C. 80 
and 40, and is found in Eusebius, Chron. i. 23, and in 
almost identical words, though with only a vague refer- 


ence to the Sibyl, in Josephus, Antiq. i. 4. 3. In what 
form the book existed from whence this citation is taken 
we do not know. Whether Clemens Komanus quotes 
any part of our work is uncertain ; Hermas Pastor 
mentions the Sibyl, but not her verses. Quotations 
abound most in Clemens Alexandrinus and Lactantius, 
who, however, seem to have been acquainted chiefly with 
the Jewish portions of the work as well as with some 
passages now no longer extant. In the time of Lac- 
tantius there was circulated a rude and undigested mass 
of verses in the Greek language, which had no pretence 
to order or completeness. Some unknown author, who 
has left a preface of untrustworthy character, collected 
these scattered elements, arranged them into books, with 
many interpolations of his own, designed to express his 
view or to facilitate the transition from one subject to 
another. The collector, probably a monk, and an adept 
at transcribing manuscripts, lived in the sixth century 
under Justinian. From his work our present collection 
took its origin. As has been already said, we are not 
here to look for the mysterious Sibylline books which 
were offered to Tarquin ; nor yet for those which replaced 
the perished Oracles in later times. Our collection is of 
later date and different origin, being merely imitations 
of the original utterances, and only, as it were, by chance 
embodying any of the ancient heathen verses. A portion 
of what we now possess was first published at Basel in 
1545 from an Augsburg, now a Munich, MS. by Xystus 
Betuleius (= Sixtus Birke i.e. birch-tree) ; this, which 
comprised eight books, was followed immediately by 
a metrical Latin version, the composition of Sebastian 


Castalio (Chateillon), who also republished the Greek 
text with emendations some ten years later. The fourth 
edition appeared at Paris in 1599 (repeated in 1607), 
under the auspices of John Opsopoeus (i.e. Koch = 
o-\|ro7roto9, cook), purified by the aid of some newly- 
discovered MSS., and enriched with some short but 
useful annotations. Amsterdam produced the next 
edition in 1687, undertaken by Servatius Gallasus (Ser- 
vais Galle") ; but this is of no critical value, and is full 
of typographical errors and irrelevant learning. A 
portion of the Sibyllines is printed in Gallandi's Biblio- 
theca Veterum Patrum, Venet. 1788. All these editions 
above - mentioned contain only the first eight books. 
Some additions to the received text were made by Angelo 
Mai, who in 1817 and 1828 found and published some 
of the missing books, making the complete work to 
consist of fourteen books, the ninth and tenth, however, 
not having been recovered. The first perfect edition, 
and one that left little to be desired, is due to C. 
Alexandre, who, in 1841 and some subsequent years, 
put forth a carefully revised text, with Castalio's Latin 
version improved and augmented, and with a large body 
of critical and exegetical notes, and a volume of excursus, 
which treat copiously of all matters connected with the 
Oracles. 1 This edition was repeated in a handier form 
in 1869. Another edition of the whole work is that by 
J. H. Friedlieb (Leipzig 1852), which is supplied with 
a translation into German hexameters, but disfigured by 
a faulty text. 2 An Englishman, Sir John Floyer, pub- 

1 Oracula Sibyllina, curante C. Alexandre, Paris 1841-1856. 

2 Subsidiary aids to the elucidation of the text are found in some 


lished a prose translation of the first seven and part of 
the eighth books in 1713, in the authenticity of which 
he implicitly believed, taking the trouble to compare 
them with the prophecies of Daniel and the Bevelation, 
and finding in them a marvellous heathen testimony to 
the truth of Divine prophecy. As an instance of human 
credulity few books are more curious than that of this 
simple and uncritical knight-errant. 

The work as at present arranged is a mass of confusion 
and incongruity, no pretence at chronological order being 
aimed at. The production of several authors Gentile, 
Jewish, and Christian taking very different standpoints, 
and living in very different ages, the Oracles must be 
examined separately, if we wish to weigh their contents 
accurately and estimate their real value and importance. 
Each book is not in itself a whole, the production of one 
author, or of one age. Often it contains incongruous 
elements, or is simply a congeries of unconnected frag- 
ments. But thus much is evident, that two chief 
elements are forthcoming, viz. a Jewish with some trace 
of heathen colouring, and a Christian which is more 
uniform. But it is very difficult to decide as to the 
character of many portions which are only of a neutral 
tint. The critics are not agreed as to the arrangement 
of the several books, but from the considerations adduced 
by Alexandre and Ewald, we may divide the whole 
collection into eight pieces of different date and author- 
treatises of Ewald, e.g. Abliandlung iiber Entsteliung . . . der Sib* 
Biicher (Gottingen 1858) ; and of Bleek in Schleiermacher's Zeit- 
schrift, i. 2, 3 ; and in the Edinburgh Review, July 1877. There are 
numerous German treatises, many of which I have not seen. 


ship. The first and oldest is undoubtedly the prologue 
of Book i. and parts of Book iii. (97-828). This portion 
was the work of an Alexandrian Jew, who wrote under 
Ptolemy VII. Physcon, about B.C. 140. It is by far the 
most important of all the poems, and worthy of the 
fullest investigation, as it is the longest pre-Christian 
production in the whole series. There is one other, and 
only one other, certainly pre-Christian section in the 
whole collection. This fragment is found in vers. 36-92 
of the same third book, and from internal evidence is 
assigned to B.C. 40, the time of the first Triumvirate. 
The second piece, Book iv., is regarded as the most 
ancient of the Christian Sibyllines, though there is 
nothing in it distinctively Christian, and it may well 
have been the work of a Jew. Its date is considered to 
be about A.D. 80. The third is a conglomeration of 
Jewish and Christian compositions, the Jewish prepon- 
derating. Much of it belongs to the first Christian 
century. It consists of the whole, or nearly the whole, 
of Book v. The fourth piece is composed of Books vi. 
and vii., and, as Ewald thinks, the first part of Book 
v. ; but this latter assertion is doubtful. This is of a 
Christian character, though decidedly heretical, and is 
referred to the early part of the third century A.D. The 
fifth is found in Book viii., vers. 1-360, Christian and 
orthodox, a little later than the last. The sixth consists 
of the rest of the eighth Book. The seventh is composed 
of Books i., il, and the first thirty-five verses of Book 
iii., and was written about the middle of the third Chris- 
tian century. The last piece contains Books xi., xii., 
xiii., xiv., and is the production of a Jew in Egypt, who 


had some acquaintance with Christian rites and 
doctrine. Thus these " Oracles " cover a space of 
more than four hundred years, and give an insight into 
the tenets and feelings of Jews and Christians at an 
epoch the most important in the religious history of 

Being of this miscellaneous character, the Sibyllines 
must be regarded as speaking each one for itself alone. 
In tracing any particular view or tenet or idea, we 
cannot, as in the ordinary case of a book composed at a 
definite time and place by a single author, say generally 
the Sibylline Oracles express this or that opinion ; but 
we must carefully regard the passage where the opinion 
occurs, and decide when it was written, and whether by 
Jew, Christian, or semi-pagan ; for on our determination 
of these questions depends the value of the given state- 
ment. Unfortunately, the interpolations of later hands 
are so numerous, that it is impossible in all cases to 
assign date or locality with absolute certainty. We are 
not about to attempt any critical examination of the 
text in this paper ; the design is more humble, viz. to 
give readers some idea of the contents of these books, 
keeping distinct the groups into which they seem natur- 
ally to divide themselves, and to show their bearing on 
the religious ideas of the two centuries preceding and 
subsequent to the time of our Lord. 

For the benefit of those who have not seen the 
original, it may be premised that the poems take the 
same form as, and endeavour to assume the outward 
character of, the ancient heathen oracles. They are 
written in Homeric hexameter verse, but with great 


licence as to the quantities of words, accent often being 
taken to lengthen a short syllable, e.g. iii. 1 : Ovpdvi 
VTfril3pefj,eTa /j,d/cap, 09 e^et? TO Xepov/31/jt,, and quantities 
are in the most regal manner made to give way to the 
necessities of the verse, even without the excuse of 
accent, e.g. v. 272 : avrovs Be Kpv^rovaiv e&>? /cooy-to? 
a\\ayg, the last two feet doing duty for spondees. It 
is supposed that the most ancient Sibylline verses were 
acrostics. 1 Of this kind of verse one celebrated specimen 
occurs in Book viii., vers. 217-250, part of which in a 
Latin form has been preserved by St. Augustine (De 
Civit. xviii. 23). The passage in the Greek consists of 
thirty-four lines, the initials of which make the words 
STATPOS. The Latin version omits the last word, 
employs C and S to represent 5, and finding a difficulty 
in the use of the Greek letter v, has substituted others 
in its place, which may possibly represent the current 
pronunciation ; so that, as it stands, the initials com- 

The earliest portion of the work is found, as has been 
said, in Book iii., combined with some older Gentile 
verses and some later Christian interpolations. All 
critics agree in this view, and many consider the pro- 
logue placed now before Book i. to be of equal antiquity. 
There are fragments not found in the extant MSS. of 
the Sibylline Oracles, but preserved by Theophilus and 

1 Dionys. Hal. iv. 62 ; Cicero, De Divin. ii. 54. 

2 Alexandre gives a revised Latin version, which forms the acrostic 
" Jesus Christus Dei Filius Salus in Cruce." 


Lactantius, 1 and ascribed by the latter to the Erythraean 
Sibyl. After enumerating ten Sibyls, he proceeds (Instit. 
i. 6) : " The verses of these Sibyls are all in circulation 
except those of the Cumoaan, which are reserved in secret 
by the Romans, and are inspected by none but the Quin- 
decimviri. They are the work of different authors, 
though often ascribed to one, who passed by the generic 
name of Sibyl. It is impossible to discriminate the 
writers, except in the case of the Erythraean, who inserts 
her own name in her poem, and is called Erythraean, 
though sprung from Babylon." Some of the lines have 
been inserted by the original collector in the first part of 
the third book, and it is probably owing to this that the 
MSS. have ceased to contain the prologue, as it was 
thought unnecessary to transcribe what would be found 
in another place. The prologue, which probably formed 
the original introduction to Book iii., begins with an 
exhortation to the Gentiles to leave their false deities, 
and to worship the one true God, " who reigns alone, 
almighty, unbegotten, seeing all yet seen of none." " Ye 
shall have the reward of your evil counsel," says the 
Sibyl, " because, neglecting to honour the true, ever- 
lasting God, and to offer to Him sacred hecatombs, ye 
have made your sacrifices to the deities of Hades." The 
Fathers 2 have seen in these words a wonderful advance 
of heathenism towards right religion. But, of course, 
they are not the genuine utterances of a heathen ; they 
are written by a Jew personifying the pagan Sibyl. The 
following argument, however, seems to be genuine. It 

1 Theoph. Ad Autol. ii. 36 ; Lact. Div. Inst. iv. 6. 

2 Clem. Alex. Protreph. pp. 23, etc. 



is preserved by Theophilus in his second book against 
Autolycus (p. 348), and takes the form of a kind of 
syllogism : " If gods beget, and are indeed immortal, 
they would be far more numerous than men, nor would 
any place be found for mortals whereon to stand. And 
if all that is begotten perishes, 1 no god could ever have 
sprung from a human womb. But God is one, alone, 
supreme, who made heaven and sun," etc., " incorruptible, 
creator, eternal, dwelling in the air; who to the good 
proffers good as an exceeding great reward, and against 
the evil raises up wrath and anger, war and pestilence, 
yea, lamentable woes." The closing lines of the prologue 
point to a late Jewish origin, the mention of Paradise in 
the sense of the abode of spirits never occurring in the 
Old Testament save in Ecclus. xliv. 16, and then only in 
the old Latin version, speaking of the translation of 
Enoch. The prologue ends thus : " But they who 
honour the true, eternal God shall inherit life, dwelling 
for ever in the fair garden of Paradise, feasting on 
sweet bread from the starry heaven." The inherit- 
ance of life, the abode in Paradise, and the feeding on 
manna savour of New Testament terminology, and, if not 
of Christian derivation, are remarkable as anticipative of 
Christian doctrine. 2 That the author was an Alexandrian 
Jew, and assumed the position of the writer of the Book 
of Wisdom, seems tolerably certain, if we regard his 
allusions to beast-worship. " O ye men," he cries, " are 
ye not ashamed to make gods of pole-cats (7aXa?) and 
brutes ? Has not madness and frenzy robbed you of 

1 Comp. Aristot. De Ccelo, i. 9. 

2 Comp. Matt. xix. 29 ; Luke xxiii. 43 ; Rev. ii. 17. 


your senses if ye think that gods plunder dishes and 
pots, and, instead of dwelling in the rich, golden heaven, 
look upon moth-eaten robes, and are begirt with spiders' 
webs ? Fools, to adore snakes, dogs, weasels, aud birds 
of air, and creeping things of earth, and images of stone, 
and statues made by hand, and cairns by the roadside : 
these things ye worship and many other vanities which 
it were a shame even to mention." Plainly the writer 
of these lines must have had before his eyes the abomina- 
tions of Egyptian idolatry, and was expressing his hatred 
of a religion, the material forms of which were daily 
forced upon his notice. But he differs from many of his 
countrymen in his eschatological views. There is no 
trace of millennarianism, or of a reign of Messiah before 
the final judgment, or of a first resurrection which shall 
affect the righteous only doctrines which are found 
continually in later books. Here there is only one judg- 
ment for all, which shall decide the fate of good and 
bad, who shall at once receive tneir appointed lot, the 
former entering upon an eternal life of happiness in an 
earthly Paradise, the latter going away into eternal fire. 

We come now to the consideration of the most 
important and characteristic of the Oracles, viz. the 
most ancient portions of Book iii., vers. 97294 and 
489-828. The intervening lines, vers. 295-488, form- 
ing the second section of the book, are an interpolation 
of a heterogeneous character, and will be noticed further 
on. The writer of the genuine poem is evidently an 
Alexandrian Jew, living in the second century before 
Christ. The determination of the date of the composi- 
tion depends on internal considerations. The author is 


acquainted with the Book of Daniel, and with the 
expedition, of Antiochus Epiphanes to Egypt. This 
affords some clue ; but there is a closer limitation. After 
the division of the Macedonian kingdom, it is said that 
another empire shall be established by " a toga-clad and 
republican nation," l which shall deal hardly with Mace- 
donia until " the seventh king of Grecian origin shall 
reign in Egypt." The allusion here must be to Ptolemy 
Physcon, who, after his brother Philometor's death, 
reigned as sole king (B.C. 145 117), having been 
associated with him for a time (B.C. 170164) before 
he was banished from Egypt. He was the seventh 
sovereign of Hellenic race. Another criterion is the 
allusion to the destruction of Carthage and Corinth, 
which, as is well known, were overthrown B.C. 146. 2 

The beginning of the poem evidently is absent. It 
now commences abruptly with an account of the building 
of the Tower of Babel, its overthrow by violent winds, 
and the dispersion of mankind consequent upon the 
confusion of tongues. Then follows a section, derived 
from Hesiod and other heathen sources, detailing the 
legends of the sons of Saturn and the Titans from the 
tenth generation after the Flood, wherein the gods of 
antiquity appear as human kings, and which are 
recounted in order to show how war was introduced 
into the world, and how other kingdoms arose. The 
history of the ancient empires Persians, Medes, 
Assyrians, etc. is dismissed in a few verses, the author 
arriving at a stride at Eome ; and then merging into 

x,ot,l TroAt/xjOoti/of, iii. 176. 
2 Schiirer, Hist, of Jewish People, iii. 280 ff. 


prophecy, the Sibyl foretells the prosperity of the king- 
dom of Solomon, whose dominion extends over Phoenicia, 
Asia Minor, the neighbouring islands, and Persia an 
exaggeration which could scarcely have been made by 
any one but a Jew of a late period. After a short 
episode concerning the Greeks and Macedonians, the 
Sibyl proceeds to inveigh against Rome, "a nation clad 
in white, many-headed, which, coming from the Western 
Sea, shall grow into a mighty empire and shake the 
throne of kings." Of its rapine and luxury, its gross 
licentiousness and profanity, its cruelty and oppression, 
she speaks in severest terms, and predicts a retributive 
punishment soon to fall. This is to happen in times 
when " the nation of the mighty God shall once again 
be strong, and become to all peoples the guide of life." 
An eloquent passage follows, containing the history of 
the Jews unto the return from exile. The opening lines 
are fine : 

There is a city in the land of the fchaldseans from which arose 
the most righteous race of men, whose care was good counsel and 
fair deeds. For they regard not with anxious thought the course of 
sun and moon, nor the wonders that are found on earth, nor the 
depth of ocean's blue- eyed sea, nor the omens of a sneeze and the 
birds of the augur, nor seers, nor sorcerers, nor charmers, nor 
ventriloquists' fond deceits ; they study not the predictions of 
Chaldsean astrologers ; they observe not the stars ; for merest fraud 
are all such things, which men in their folly day by day explore, 
exercising their soul in no useful work, teaching error unto hapless 
mortals ; whence many evils have befallen the inhabitants of earth, 
so that they have strayed from the paths of righteousness. But, on 
the other hand, this people make righteousness and virtue their sole 
care ; they shun avarice, which to the race of man brings number- 
less evils, wars, and famine past escape. Just bounds are theirs in 
town and field ; no thief steals by night into their houses ; they 
harry not their neighbours' flocks of oxen, sheep, and goats, nor 


violate their neighbours' boundaries ; the rich man vexes not his 
poorer brother, nor harasses the widow, but rather aids her from his 
stores of corn and wine and oil ; ever is he a blessing to them who 
have nothing ; ever of his harvest he gives a share to the needy. 
Thus they fulfil the command of the great God, which is their 
ordered song ; for the heavenly Father has given the earth as the 
common possession of all men. Vers. 218-248. 

This eloquent passage, which indeed is an amplifica- 
tion of the warnings in Deut. xviii., is succeeded by an 
abstract of the history of Israel in the form of prophecy. 
The exodus is noticed, and the promulgation of the law 
at Sinai, and the happy life in the Holy Land, " when to 
them alone among mankind the fruitful earth returned 
a hundredfold such were the measures of God." But 
the exile in Assyria follows and the ruin of the once 
favoured land, a punishment of the people's idolatry. 
Therefore for seventy years the country lies desolate, 
till a king sent from heaven, Cyrus, warned by a holy 
dream, restores Judah, the royal tribe, and all the kings 
of Persia give means to rebuild the temple. 

The las.t section of the poem (vers. 489807) is 
occupied with various predictions concerning the nations 
of the earth. In the epilogue (vers. 808-828) the 
Sibyl speaks of herself (though some critics regard this 
notice as a later interpolation), affirming that, while fame 
tells that she came from Erythrae, or was the daughter of 
Circe, she was- in fact the daughter-in-law of Noah, and 
shut up with him in the ark. She asserts emphatically 
that she came from Babylon inspired (olo-Tpo^avrj^} to 
foretell the future to mortals. " The Greeks," she says, 
"assert that I am from Erythrae, or the daughter of 
Circe and Gnostos, and that I am insane and a false 


prophetess ; but when my predictions shall be fulfilled, 
then shall ye remember me, and own that I am not mad, 
but a true prophetess of God " (808 ff.). Of the prophecy 
itself the following may be taken as a summary, though 
very often it is difficult to see to what events in history 
the seer refers, and sometimes there is known no fact 
corresponding to the fate announced : Phoenicia shall 
be utterly destroyed, so that not a tribe shall be left, 
because of her lying lips and lawless life, and her proud 
exultation against the mighty God. A horrible end 
awaits Crete, whose smoking ruins all the world shall 
see. Thrace shall pass under the servile yoke, when a 
mixed horde of Galatkns and Phrygians (Dardanidse) 
shall overrun the fields of Greece. Evil shall befall 
Gog and Magog, the Marsi and Daci." Under these 
appellations the extreme northern nations are meant ; the 
Marsi were always formidable in Eoman eyes, and the 
Dacians are often enumerated among Scythian tribes. 1 
This loose geography may be expected in a Jew living 
at Alexandria. Woe is next denounced on the peoples 
of Asia Minor on Moors, Ethiopians, and Arabians ; 
and then the ruin of Greece is predicted, when a bar- 
barous nation shall invade it, and rapine and cruelty and 
slaughter shall reign throughout the land. This refers 
to the proceedings of the Eomans in the Macedonian 
and Achaic wars. Man's share in this destruction shall 
be aided by Nature : plague, fire, famine shall do their 
part, so that scarce a third of the inhabitants shall 
remain. These evils are a punishment for the idolatry 
which profane kings introduced into Greece " fifteen 
1 Ezek. xxxix. 1, 2 ; Horat. Carm. ii. 20. 18, iii. 14. 18, etc. 


hundred years ago." What this limitation of time may 
mean cannot accurately be determined. Dating it from 
the Sibyl's age, it would land us in an epoch long 
anterior to the Trojan war, about which we can form 
only conjectures. But the seer looks forward to better 
days. Greece will some day cast away its idols and 
turn to the true God, and with hands uplifted implore 
His help, offering to Him the sacrifices which once 
were paid to false gods. And then, led away, as it 
seems, by the temporary prosperity of the Jews under 
the Maccabaean rule, the author utters his Messianic 
hopes in glowing language, contrasting the peace and 
happiness of the favoured people with the wars and 
misery which were the heathen's portion. 1 " The holy 
race shall cleave unto the Most High God, and honour 
His temple with libations and incense and sacred 
hecatombs, and offer on the great altar fat thighs of 
rams. Eighteously observing the holy law, they shall 
live happy in city and field, and, themselves becoming 
prophets, shall bring joy to all men ; for to them alone 
of mortals hath God given wisdom and faith. They 
make no gods of gold or silver, nor pictured forms of 
beasts to worship ; but ever they raise pure arms to 
heaven, in early morning rising from their bed to cleanse 
their hands with water ; 2 they honour the eternal God 
and their parents ; they love chastity and the bed un- 
defiled, nor ever practise the shameful vices of the 
heathen, which have brought on these infinite misery." 

1 This, according to Sir J. Floyer, is a description of the Eeforma- 
tion in Europe, A.D. 1517. 

2 John ii. 6. 


But a day shall come when idolatry shall be abolished, 
and the pagans shall hide their images in the holes of 
the rocks l for very shame. This blessed change shall 
take place " what time a new king shall rule over Egypt, 
the seventh in succession of the Grecian supremacy," i.e. 
as we have seen, in the reign of Ptolemy Physcon. At 
that time "a mighty king from Asia, like a rapacious 
eagle " Antiochus Epiphanes shall ravage Egypt, and 
carry off large booty across the sea. Taught by these 
sufferings, the nation shall bow its knee to the great 
God of heaven, and burn its idols ; and the Lord shall 
make all the land rejoice ; and earth shall give her 
increase, and there shall be abundance of flocks and 
herds and of everything that sustains the life of men. 
This passage places us at the standpoint of the writer, 
who, knowing nothing of subsequent events, takes 
occasion from the happy circumstances of the Jews at 
this epoch to picture the peaceful life of the righteous 
nation in anticipation of the glories of Messiah's kingdom. 
At the same time, he warns the Gentiles that first shall 
arise terrible tribulation from the cruel inroads of a 
barbarous people, meaning probably the Eomans. At 
the close of this distress Messiah shall come. " Then 
from the rising sun 2 God shall send a king, who shall 
make all the earth to cease from cruel war, killing 
indeed some, making faithful treaties with others. Not 
by his own counsels shall he do all this, but in obedience 

1 Isa. ii. 19 f. 

2 'A?r' ojsA/o/o (v. 652), "from the east," Isa. xli. 2 ; or it may 
mean simply "from heaven," as Cyrus is said (v. 286) to come 


to the good decrees of Almighty God. 1 And the Lord's 
people shall be rich with every blessing, with gold and 
silver and purple raiment ; land and sea shall fill them 
with good things." Nations shall war against the holy 
people, eager to destroy the temple of God, and bring in 
their own idolatrous worship ; but the hand of the Lord 
shall be heavy upon them, and shall rain destruction 
upon them from heaven. " In those days the whole 
earth shall be shaken, and all the inhabitants thereof, 
and great fear shall be on every side. He shall rend 
asunder the mountains, and lay open the abyss, and fill 
the places with dead bodies, and lay low the walls of 
evil men, because they knew not the law of God, and 
raised their weapons against the holy place." And this 
destruction shall fall upon them until they recognise 
God, the righteous Judge. Here, as the seer unfolds the 
mighty future, he claims for his utterances the gift of 
inspiration. " The great eternal God Himself bade me 
prophesy these things, all of which shall be fulfilled in 
their season ; for the Spirit of God throughout the world 
is true." 2 Then follows another glowing description of 
the felicity of the chosen people, who shall dwell in 
peace and plenty under the immediate protection of 
God. " Oh, how greatly doth the Immortal love 
these men ! shall all the islands and cities say ; for 
all things sympathise with them and bring them 

1 John v. 19 : " The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He 
seeth the Father do." Comp. ibid. v. 30. 

2 Though the Jews did not accurately distinguish the Persons of 
the Holy Trinity, they often speak of the Holy Spirit as distinct 
from the Father, e.g. in the Book of Wisdom, and look to Him as 
the Author of inspiration. 


help, 1 both heaven, and moon, and God-moved sun." At 
sight of this prosperity the Gentiles shall turn to God, 
and call on one another to come and offer sacrifice to the 
Almighty, and to be obedient to His law. Now the 
prophet calls upon Greece (i.e. the land of Egypt) to aid 
the Jews dwelling there to return to their own country, 
and to take part in the struggle then being carried on 
under the brave Maccabees. 2 If the Egyptians shall 
neglect to do this, and shall still cleave to their idolatry and 
heathen vice, they shall lose all share in the felicity of 
the Messianic kingdom, " when the fated end shall arrive, 
and the judgment of the eternal God shall fall upon 
mortal men." A still more glowing description of this 
happy time follows, very similar to the classic accounts 
of the golden age ; and the Lord, it is said, in the starry 
heaven shall give one common law to all the earth, " for 
He is God alone, and there is none but He." 3 And 
when His kingdom is established over all men, then 
shall they bring incense and offerings to the one house 
of God which shall stand for ever. 4 Here the writer 

1 Wisd. xvi. 17; Koin. viii. 28. 

2 The historical allusions may be read in Alexandre's note on 
v. 734. 

3 This is a phrase which often occurs : Deut. iv. 35 ; Isa. xlv. 5, 

4 In v. 774, according to the reading of the MSS., occur the 
words : " And mortals shall call him the Son of the Mighty God," 
viov yap x.x'htQvsi Pporoi (Atydi'hoio tifoio. The last object spoken of is 
oixog, the house of God, which Lactantius and Augustine took as 
denoting the Logos (see Lact. Div. Inst. iv. 6 ; August. Contr. Hcer. 
v. 3). But Alexandre with great probability thinks that vw* ought 
to be read instead of VIM, as the rest of the paragraph is concerned 
only with the temple, and any mention of the Son of God is alien 
from the passage. 


evidently looks forward to the permanence and unique 
position of the temple at Jerusalem, once polluted by 
Antiochus, but now purified and restored by the piety of 
the Maccabees. By land and sea, he says, the peoples 
shall flock to the Holy City to pay their vows ; and this 
they can do because it shall be a time of universal peace, 
when " the prophets of God shall take away the sword 
from among mankind, and they themselves shall be the 
kings and righteous judges of mortal men ; and He shall 
dwell with them and be their everlasting light." What 
signs shall precede this happy reign of Messiah ? They 
are these : flaming swords in the sky seen by night in 
the east and west ; storms of dust ; the light of the sun 
failing in mid-day, and the moon's rays falling on earth 
at unusual times ; blood flowing from rocks ; warriors 
and huntsmen appearing in the clouds of heaven. 1 

The book closes, as we have seen above, with an 
epilogue containing an account of the Sibyl's origin, and 
asserting her claim to inspiration. In this composition 
we see the object of the writer very plainly. He 
employs the popularity enjoyed by the " Oracles " to 
enforce his own views, presenting the history of his 
own people up to Noah's time as a past record, and 
narrating subsequent events in the form of prophecy, the 
role of antiquity being thus well maintained, and his own 
age virtually asserted. He sets before the Gentiles a 
high ideal, showing them to what they ought to aspire, 
and warning them that they can hope to attain this 
position only by favouring and supporting the chosen 
people, and following their bright example. And he 
1 Comp. 2 Mace. v. 2, 3. 


recalls the Hebrews, especially those dwelling in foreign 
countries, to the observation of the law, and to the 
remembrance of Messianic hopes which are now approach- 
ing fulfilment. It is just possible that Virgil, in his 
description of the golden age, may have reproduced some 
of the ideas which had emanated from the Sibyl, whose 
verses may have been carried to Rome by the com- 
missioners who were sent to seek for Sibylline books in 
Egypt, and that he alludes to our poet when he says 
(Ed. iv. 4) : " Ultima Cumsei venit jam carminis setas." 
The second section of this book is almost wholly occupied 
with denunciations of judgments and calamities upon 
nations more or less hostile to Israel. Babylon shall 
suffer heavily for her offences against the holy people ; 
Egypt shall be pierced with the sword "in the seventh 
generation of kings," and then shall rest in peace; Gog 
and Magog, whose unknown country lies between the 
Ethiopian rivers, shall be stained with blood ; for Libya 
and western lands a bitter time is approaching. Nor 
shall signs of the coming calamities be wanting ; comets, 
plagues, famines, wars, earthquakes, shall herald the fate 
of these nations. Proclamations of woes on particular 
towns and countries follow. Rome shall have to restore 
to Asia the wealth which she plundered. Then we have 
the paronomasias: 

tared jcal 2a^o? cc^aoj, lailroti AijAoj 
xul ' 

After these tribulations peace shall ensue in Asia and 
Europe, and a time of Messianic prosperity. Then the 
Sibyl turns again to gloomy vaticinations, and utters 
oracles concerning Antiochus Epiphanes, " a man clad in 


purple, barbarous, iniquitous, fiery," and his successors ; 
she speaks of Phrygia, Troy, Lydia, Cyprus, Italy, and 
other countries, taking occasion to inveigh against Homer 
as a writer of lies (tyevSoypdcfros), one who plagiarised 
from Sibyl's oracles, and falsified what he borrowed. 
The section ends with announcing the destruction of 
Carthage and Corinth. 

The book next in age to the preceding one is the 
fourth, the production of a Jew or a semi-Judaising 
Christian, composed after the fall of Jerusalem under 
Titus or Domitian. The date is fixed by two allusions 
in the poem : first, the destruction of Jerusalem (vers. 
115-127); and next, the mention of the eruption of 
Vesuvius (A.D. 79) as a recent calamity, and the pre- 
cursor of Divine vengeance on the destroyer of the 
Jewish nation. " When from the cloven rocks of Italy 
a fire returning shall blaze unto the broad heaven, and 
shall burn up many cities, and destroy the lives of men, 
filling the vast air with flaming ashes, and drops of 
bloody hue shall fall from heaven, then shall men know 
the wrath of God for that they slew the guiltless race of 
the pious" (vers. 130-136). Prophecies of this calamity 
were prevalent among the heathen. Plutarch 1 twice 
alleges a supposed Sibylline oracle on the subject, which 
speaks of the overthrow of Cumae and Dicasarchia, i.e. 
Puteoli, by fire from the Besbian mountain. And the 
astonishment with which the news of it was received, 
and the effect upon men's minds, may be gathered 
from the accounts which* have come down to us. Dio 

1 De Ser. Num. Vind. t. viii. p. 240 ; De Pyth. Orac. t. vii. p. 566. 


Cassius 1 asserts that the ashes reached even Syria and 
Egypt. To the Jews, suffering from their late disasters, 
and prone to look for God's interposition in their 
behalf, the calamity seemed to be a well-deserved judg- 
ment on their conquerors, and a sign of the punishment 
which was to subdue the enemy, and re - establish 
their own fallen state. The supposed Christian origin 
of the book is inferred from certain allusions con- 
tained in it ; but these are very far from being decisive. 
Thus the saying of grace before meals is (vers. 25 f.) 
noticed as a special mark of the pious, and the turning 
with horror from temples which flow with the blood of 
sacrifices. But the grace at meals was a special rabbinic 
practice, and the animal sacrifices referred to may be 
those offered by heathens. And if the author praises the 
people for being averse from unlawful and usurious 
gain, he is not necessarily alluding to Christians, but 
rather applauding the ideal Hebrew, however inappropri- 
ately to what we know of their actual character. We 
find also a seeming reference to the total immersion 
practised by the early Christians in the rite of baptism. 
" Ah ! wretched mortals, lay down your swords ; away 
with groans, and murder, and violence, and wash your 
whole bodies in the perennial waters, and raising your 
hands on high, ask pardon for past sins" (vers. 161 ff.). 
5ut this may just as well be said of the proselyte 
baptism practised by the Jews. 2 In another passage the 
reproaches heaped on the pious are just such as are com- 
plained of in the apologetic writings of the Christians, 
whom their traducers " attack with derision and calumny, 
1 L. Ixvi. 23. 2 See Schiirer, ii. 323. 


attributing their own evil deeds to the holy worshippers 
of God " (vers. 3 7 ff.). This, again, is too vague to 
determine the question either way. An epilogue about 
the condition of men after the judgment was thought to 
be sufficiently orthodox and in accordance with Christian 
notions to be transferred bodily to the Apostolical Con- 
stitutions, where it will be found in Book v. chap. 7. 
The episode there is indeed somewhat longer than that 
contained in the MSS. of the Sibyllines, and the editors 
of the latter have added the verses thus preserved to 
their editions, judging rightly that there is sufficient 
authority for the insertion. 

There are some points of great interest in this book. 
Let us glance at the contents. Commencing with an 
address to the nations of Europe and Asia, the Sibyl 
claims direct inspiration from the true God, whose 
attributes are finely expressed ; and, in opposition to 
the false oracles of Apollo, she professes to be able to 
narrate events from the first to the tenth generation, 
which, in Sibylline utterance, is always the last. Before 
doing this she digresses into the praise of those who 
serve the great God and bless Him before they eat or 
drink, and offer no bloody sacrifices, living honestly and 
chastely, the laughing - stock indeed of evil men, but 
approved of the Lord, who shall punish the mockers at 
the judgment, separating the righteous from the wicked. 
The allusion, as we have already noticed, is not 
necessarily to the Christians, and the passage is remark- 
able as, like one above mentioned, offering no support to 
millennial opinions, or to the notion of a first resurrection 
which prevailed among some of the Jews of this period. 


The view here entertained is (like that enunciated in the 
Ascension of Isaiah, etc.) rather that of an universal 
judgment to be followed immediately by the felicity of 
the righteous. This happy reward is to be received on 
earth and enjoyed in the body ; that a resurrection is to 
precede it seems to be implied. There is no mention of 
Christ in this account of the last days, which is incon- 
ceivable if the book is written by a Christian. But all 
such speculations, not based altogether on revelation, are 
necessarily vague, and often contradictory. After this 
reference to the great consummation, the Sibyl proceeds 
to notice six generations of Assyrian kings, commencing 
from the time of the Flood, followed by two of Median 
origin, 1 and one each of Persian and Macedonian, the last 
ushering in the Roman dominion. We are told of a 
battle between the Medes and Persians at the Euphrates, 
which resulted in the victory of the latter ; of the Trojan 
war, when " boastful Greece " brought ruin on the fields 
of Phrygia ; of a famine in Egypt of twenty years' 
duration, the Nile withholding its crop - nourishing 
waters ; of Xerxes' invasion of Greece, with its disastrous 
termination ; of eruptions of JEtna, and earthquakes in 
Italy, in one of which Croton was destroyed ; of the war 
which raged in Peloponnesus ; and of the destiny of many 
other nations, the verses concerning which seem to be 
remnants of old heathen oracles, and are curious if not 

The allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem and the 
temple gives occasion for the earliest notice of the legend 

1 In this period occurs an eclipse of the sun, which may possibly 
be the one noticed by Thales, B.C. 585. 



concerning Nero, which was at one time so widely 
prevalent. According to this notion, Nero did not 
commit suicide on hearing of the proclamation of Galba 
and the desertion of the army, but escaped secretly to the 
East, and will return some day, enacting the part of 
Antichrist, and making havoc of the Church. Mention 
of impostors who assumed to be Nero is found also among 
the heathen writers who have treated of this period 
Suetonius, Tacitus, and others. 1 The cruel persecution of 
the Christians under this emperor led them to look upon 
him as the type of the great enemy of the gospel whose 
advent they expected in the last days. Many have 
fancied that St. Paul referred to Nero in speaking of 
" that Wicked one " who was to be revealed in time 
(2 Thess. ii.). Indeed, so intense was the hatred of Nero, 
entertained alike by Jews and Christians, that no evil 
was too monstrous to be assigned to him the former 
regarding him as virtually the destroyer of their city and 
polity, the latter finding in him all the attributes of the 
great enemy of God and man, whose appearance they 
were led to expect. The near approach of the final con- 
summation was supposed to be heralded by the eruption 
of Vesuvius, which was regarded as an instance of Divine 
vengeance, and was to be followed by the return of " the 
exile from Borne, who should come from the far Eu- 
phrates, wielding his mighty sword, attended by myriads 
of soldiers." Other signs of the times are the demolition 
of Salainis and Paphos by an earthquake, which visited 
Cyprus A.D. 71, and which is mentioned by other 

1 Tacit. Hist. i. 2, ii. 8 ; Sueton. Nero. 57 ; Lactant. De Marie 
Per sec. ii. ; Zonar. xi. 18. 


authors, 1 the destruction of Antioch, and the restitution 
to Asia of the wealth which Borne had plundered from 
her. This last event was the subject of a common ex- 
pectation at that time, seized upon with avidity by the 
Jews out of their hatred for their conquerors. Lactantius 
(vii. 15) expresses the general feeling or hope when he 
says : " The Roman name, which now is supreme in all the 
world, shall be utterly abolished, the empire shall return 
to Asia, and once again the East shall bear rule." Tacitus 
tells (Hist. v. 13) how an impression had prevailed that 
in certain sacred writings 2 it had been foretold that at 
this time the East should gain the mastery, and that 
Judsea should send forth conquering princes. In view of 
these coming occurrences the Sibyl, as we have seen, 
urges all men to repent and be baptized, for God was 
about to destroy the world and its inhabitants with fire. 
The book ends with the following paragraph, which is 
worth- quoting, as showing the belief of a Jew or a semi- 
Christian in the latter half of the first century : " But 
when all things shall be reduced to dust and ashes, and 
God shall have put to sleep the awful fire which He 
kindled, He will again change the bones and dust of men, 
and make them such as once they were. And then shall 
be the judgment ; and God Himself shall judge the 
world again ; and those who have done iniquity, them the 
earth shall cover with its heaps, and the depths of dark- 
some Tartarus and Stygian Gehenna. But the pious 

1 Euseb. Chron. ; Senec. Ep. xei. ; Dio Cass. liv. 23 ; Cramer, 
Anecd. i. 334. 

2 Probably Dan. ii. 44 f. is meant. Comp. Sueton. Vespas. 4 ; 
Joseph. Bell. Jud. vi. 5. 4. 


shall live again in the world (/cocrftov), enjoying the 
incorruptible happiness of the immortal God, who shall 
give them spirit, life, and grace. And all shall see each 
other, looking on the sweet, joyous light of the sun. 
How blessed is he who shall live in that time ! " 

Belonging to the same period as the fourth book, or a 
little later, is the fifth, a few verses possibly being 
interpolated at the beginning. This is partly the work 
of an Alexandrian Jew, and seems to have been written, 
like other productions of the Alexandrian school, in 
order to introduce among the Gentiles Jewish ideas 
concerning monotheism and Messianic hopes. But there 
are some items which are clearly of Christian origin, as 
the one quoted further on identifying Jesus with Joshua. 
The writer of some passages appears to have had some 
acquaintance with the Eevelation of St. John, and may 
possibly have been a renegade catechumen, and the same 
person who composed the interpolations in the third book, 
showing such implacable hatred to Eome on account of 
her treatment of the holy people. The frequent 
references to Egypt and Alexandria sufficiently prove 
the birthplace of this poem ; and the statements con- 
cerning the Roman emperors, down to the time of the 
Antonines, indicate its date. The writer, who calls her- 
self the sister of Isis, deals largely with history, 
beginning with Eome, and passing thence to other 
kingdoms and lands, and concludes with a description of 
a war among the signs of the Zodiac, during which stars 
shall fall from heaven, and shall cause the total con- 
flagration of the world. The Eoman emperors, from 
Julius Csesar to Hadrian, are indicated by the value of 


the numbers, which in the Greek the initials of their 
names afford. Thus, J. Caesar is he whose name shall 
begin with " twice ten " (K), Augustus he who has the first 
of letters (A), Tiberius he whose initial is three hundred 
(T), and so on. Hadrian is not designated by his num- 
ber ; he is called " the man of the silver head, who has 
the name of a sea." After him are to follow three Anto- 
nines. This concludes the oracular utterances respecting 
Home. The rest of the book concerns itself with the 
affairs in Egypt, Judrea, and some other countries, com- 
prising doubtless many ancient oracles once extant. 
Some few points in the historical allusions are worthy 
of mention. Thus here and elsewhere T mention is made 
of the conquest of the Persians and Medes, and the 
destruction of Babylon by Tiberius, events which history 
has failed to record, and which belong to that affecta- 
tion of universal dominion which was the product of 
the early Eoman empire. Of course at this period the 
ancient Babylon was a shapeless ruin, which sheltered 
a few miserable Jews and natives, who contended with 
the wild beasts of the desert for a home in this desolate 
region. The connection of the Eomans with this place 
was very slight. When L. Vitellius had the com- 
mand in Syria, he took part in a civil war among the 
Parthians, and on one occasion led his forces to the 
Euphrates, and for a short time occupied the site of 
Babylon. This proceeding was magnified by rumour; 
and becoming in the course of time confused with 
Trajan's expeditions to the East, and the capture of 
Seleucia and Ctesiphon in the days of M. Aurelius 
Mii. 384, xii. 40 f. 


Antoninus and L. Verus, it was regarded as Kome's 
great victory over the far - famed capital of Chaldsea. 
The expectation of Nero's return, as the superhuman 
enemy of God, crops up again in this book. He is to 
come from Persia and overrun Egypt (vers. 92 ff.) ; but, 
daring to attack the sacred city, shall be overthrown by 
a mighty king sent from heaven, and then shall ensue 
the universal judgment. Nero appears, too, as the 
devastator of Greece ; and some of his prominent crimes 
are mentioned with abhorrence. When he flees from 
Eome, he is said " to leave Babylon," this name being 
often given to Eome in the Sibylline Oracles a fact 
which may help expositors of 1 Peter and the Eevela- 
tion. After the destruction of the Holy Temple, and 
when this Adversary shall have reigned three years, a 
star shall fall from heaven and dry up the sea, and 
consume " Babylon " itself and the land of Italy. Here 
there is evidently some acquaintance with Christian 
apocalyptic literature, though the knowledge is dim 
and imperfect. The writer's hatred of the Eoman name 
has led him to attribute unheard - of atrocities to the 
Antonines. Beliar, Antichrist, or Nero redivivus, who 
will have such power as was never before given unto 
man, will overthrow the three princes that spring from 
Hadrian, and compel them not only to slay one another, 
but even to eat one another's flesh, so that the sons 
make a banquet of the father's limbs (vers. 220 ff.). 
Most of the so-called Oracles are saved from gross error 
by being confined to events that had already happened, 
but this was really a prediction, and was not warranted 
by the event ; but it is curiously paralleled by a state- 


ment in the Fourth Book of Esdras xii. 21 ff., which 
Alexandre supposes to refer to these times : " And 
whereas thou sawest three heads resting, this is the 
interpretation : In his last days shall the Most High 
raise up three kings, and they shall renew many things 
therein, and they shall have dominion of the earth 
and of those that dwell therein, with much oppres- 
sion, above all those that were before them ; therefore 
are they called the heads of the eagle. And whereas 
thou sawest that the great head appeared no more, it 
signifieth that one of them shall die upon his bed, and 
yet with pain. For the two that remain shall be 
slain with the sword. For the sword of the one shall 
devour the other ; but at the last shall he fall through 
the sword himself." In connection with the oracle 
against Rome, occur a few lines dooming Gauls and 
Britons to destruction (vers. 199 ff.) for taking part in 
the ruin of Jerusalem. Vespasian, it seems, summoned 
a Gallic legion from Syria to act against the Jews, and 
thus gave occasion for the Sibyl's invective, which 
includes the destruction of Eavenna as being the port 
whence the expedition sailed. 1 Such reckless assertions, 
resting on no basis of fact, are very usual with this poet. 
Thus, to vilify the conqueror of Jerusalem, he states that 
Titus dethroned his father (ver. 39); in another place 
(vers. 227 ff.) he thus inveighs against Rome : " Unstable 
and of evil counsel, and by evil fate begirt, beginning of 
sorrows to men and alike their end, while nature by 
thee is now outraged, now preserved, 2 teeming with evil 

1 Tacit. Hist. iv. 39, v. 1 ; Joseph. Bell. Jud. iii. 1. 4 f. 

2 The meaning is obscure. The old Latin is : " Dum per te natura 


and misery, who ever longed for thee ? Who did not 
burn with wrath against thee ? What fallen king ever 
died in thee an honourable death ? Ill hast thou every- 
thing disposed ; thou hast brought in a flood of wicked- 
ness ; by thee the fair frame of the earth is changed." 
Contrasted with the iniquity and consequent destruction 
of Eome is the predicted prosperity of Zion. When 
Persia is at peace, and war shall no longer be found 
in her borders, the holy race of Jews shall once more 
arise superior to their enemies. Here follows a passage 
(vers. 255 ff.) which seems of Christian origin : " Now a 
certain excellent man shall come again from heaven, 
who spread forth his hands upon the very fruitful tree, 
the best of the Hebrews, who once made the sun stand 
still, speaking with beauteous words and pure lips." 
There is here evidently an allusion to the crucifixion 
of our Blessed Lord, which reminds one of the Catholic 
hymn, where the cross is spoken of as a tree " flore, 
fronde fertilis," and the lines in the " Lustra Sex " : 

Crux fidelis, inter omnes 
Arbor una nobilis, 
Silva tamen nulla profert 
Fronde, flore, germine ; 
Dulce ferrum, dulce lignum, 
Dulce pondus sustinent. 

The identification of Christ with Joshua is a mixture 
of Jewish and Christian legend which is unique. It is 

perit rursusque resurgit." Friedlieb: "Da die Schopfung beschiidigt 
und wieder (las Schieksal erettet." Floyer : " Thy creation was 
pernicious ; but thou art preserved by fate to be the most infamous," 
etc. These are supposed to be translations of the Greek : 



no question of symbolism here, as Joshua in Christian 
writings is treated as a type of Christ, but rather the 
confusion is such as might be made by an ignorant 
person reading Heb. iv. 8, "if Jesus had given them 
rest," and concluding that Jesus Christ led the Jews 
into Canaan. The author, indeed, identifies himself 
with the Jews, as where he prays (vers. 327 ff.) : " Spare 
Judaea, Almighty Father, that we may see Thy judg- 
ments ; " and were it credible that the whole book was 
the work of one author, we should regard his religion as 
syncretic, and in full accord neither with law nor gospel. 
But the book, as we have said, is of composite character, 
containing heterogeneous elements. One writer may 
have been a Christian, another filches occasionally from 
Christian sources, but has no lively faith in Christ ; like 
many of his countrymen at this time, he suspends his 
judgment, and instead of making a decision expends his 
energies in denunciations of the hated power of Eome, 
and in speculations concerning the future. We need not 
recount these various predictions, which are of similar 
character throughout, and have no historical value. They 
commonly introduce the victories and overthrow of Anti- 
christ, or the Adversary, and contrast them with the 
prosperity of Israel under the Messiah. The author in 
the case of the latter subject is generally, but not invari- 
ably, in agreement with Eevelation. He speaks of the 
New Jerusalem which Messiah shall build, a city brighter 
than sun, and moon, and stars ; but, in opposition to 
those who gave a spiritual interpretation to such pre- 
dictions, he places therein a temple, eva-ap/cov, corporeal, 
material, whereas St. John says (Kev. xxi. 22) he saw no 


temple there. He proclaims the extinction of the two 
great luminaries in the heavens, but, apparently, not at 
the same time. When the moon's light is quenched 
an universal war shall ensue, which shall be specially 
localised in Macedonia, where the Adversary shall over- 
throw the Antonines, and, returning thence, shall waste 
Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, Judaea alone being left 
at peace. When the sun shall set, never more to rise, 
the whole world shall lie in darkness, except the land of 
Israel, which shall have light from the Lord. This awful 
time shall be preceded in Egypt by the freezing of the 
river Nile, and an irruption of barbarians into Asia 
and Thrace, and shall be followed by the destruction 
of the Egyptian idols, Isis and Serapis, and the erection 
in Egypt of a temple * to the true God, which shall last 
to the end of the world, when it will be destroyed by 
the Ethiopians, who then, with the rest of the evil-doers, 
will meet with their just punishment at the hands of 
Almighty God. The Sibyl leaves the world in flames, 
saying nothing of what shall be afterwards. This gap is 
supplied by a later oracle. 

The next piece consists of Books vi. and vii., which, 
from internal evidence, seem to have been written by a 
Christian, one, however, who was very far from being 
orthodox, and held the doctrines of some of the sects 
of later apostolic times. Ewald sets the date at the 
end of Adrian's reign, Alexandre nearly a century later. 

1 This is not the Temple of Onias, erected near Heliopolis in the 
time of Ptolemy Philometor, and long before this time dismantled 
and disused (Joseph. Bell. Jud. vii. 10. 4), but a new one, which was 
never built, though it may possibly have been contemplated, perhaps 
with some support from Isa. xix. 18 ff. 


The latter relies on some lines in Book vii. (vers. 41 ff.) 
which speak of the rise of a new Persian kingdom, 
infamous with vice, and an expedition of the Eomans 
against it, which terminated unfavourably, and which 
he supposes to refer to the proceedings of the Emperor 
Alexander Severus, A.D. 232. But the allusion is very 
obscure, and it is certain that the emperor on this occa- 
sion returned in triumph to Home, and that the Persian 
monarch was restrained for many years from hostile 
operations ; so that we cannot fix the date of the poem 
from this passage, which in fact would equally well 
apply to the defeat of Crassus by the Parthians. The 
threat against Judrea for its treatment of Messiah (vi. 
21 ff.) may be a prophecy after the punishment had 
fallen, as are so many of the " Oracles." The heresies 
which the author affects are such as were rife in early 
Christian times, and we shall probably not be wrong in 
setting the date of this piece in the latter half of the 
second century. 

The sixth book, a very short one of only twenty-eight 
lines, is not a vaticination, but a hymn to Christ, in 
which are set forth His Divine nature, His appearance 
and ministry in the world, and His future return. 
These facts are produced in orthodox language, which is 
deemed worthy of quotation by Lactantius and Gregory 
Nazianzen, and was not unknown to Augustine. 1 In the 
mention of our Lord's baptism occurs the legend of the 
fire which then appeared, to which we shall refer again 
below. The Sibyl applies the verb " he saw " in Matt. 

1 Lactant. iv. 13 and 18 ; Greg. Naz. Ad t. ii. p. 144 ; 
Aug. De Civ. xviii. 23. 


iii. 1 6 to Christ, not to John : " He, escaping from the 
fire, first shall see the sweet Spirit of God coming upon 
Him." Thus far all is not unorthodox; but following 
the tenets of the Cerinthians and Ebionites, the writer 
holds that Jesus, a mere man, son of Joseph and Mary, 
received the Divine nature at His baptism by the 
descent of the Holy Ghost, who united Him with Christ, 
the eternal Word of God. He recognises two natures in 
Jesus Christ, and one Person, and always professes belief 
in His divinity. His words concerning the Cross have 
continually been quoted as confirming the doctrine of 
the Hypostatic union for which the Council of Ephesus 
contended. " blessed tree," he says, " on which God 
was stretched," or, as the Latin versifier puts it 

lignum felix in quo Deus ipse pependit. 

Contrary to the tradition which represented Helena as 
the finder of the Holy Cross (and therefore supporting 
the earlier date assigned to this book), the Sibyl says 
that the earth could not keep the sacred wood, but that 
it was transported to a heavenly home, to appear again 
at the last day, " the sign of the Son of man " (Matt, 
xxiv. 30). The same expectation is found elsewhere, e.g. 
in the acrostic in Book viii. 244, which is rendered 

Insigne et cunctis aderit mirabile visu 
Nullo sat cultu fidis venerabile lignum. 

In these early times it is plain that the Cross alone, 
without the figure of Christ upon it, was the object of 
veneration. The crucifix was of later origin. Before 
leaving this book we may observe that in the solitary 
denunciation which it contains, Judaea is addressed as 


" Land of Sodom," an appellation of Jerusalem common 
alike to the prophets and the Apocalypse (comp. Isa. 
i. 9, 10 ; Ezek. xvi. ; Eev. xi. 8). 

The seventh book, which from internal considerations 
is rightly considered to be the work of the same author 
as the preceding, is of conglomerate character, and 
returns to the usual form of Sibyllines, consisting, that 
is, of predictions concerning various nations, interspersed 
with certain mystic and theological statements. The 
first part is fragmentary, containing oracles concerning 
Ehodes, Delos, Cyprus, and Sicily. In it is comprised a 
paragraph from a poem on the Flood, which is also found 
in Book i. This contains the curious myth that Phrygia 
was the first country to emerge from the waters, and 
became the originator of idolatry. The same legend is 
found in other of the Oracles, e.g. i. 196, iii. sect. 2. 
140, v. 129, and seems to have been derived without 
examination from the prevalent opinion that the belief 
in the most ancient of the pagan divinities and the most 
antique rites of heathenism arose in that part of the 
world. There is another tradition which makes the ark 
ground on an Ararat in Phrygia, near the city Apamea 
Cibotus (i. 261). This is an offshoot of the preceding 
myth. After some other prophecies we come to the 
mention of Christ, " the Begotten, the great God," 
appearing in judgment. Certain signs shall herald His 
advent, specially a mighty column of flame in the 
heavens, which shall drop fiery destruction on the 
wicked. In mentioning Christ's dominion over the 
angels, the writer has expressions very similar to those 
used by Hernias in the Pastor (vers. 3, 4), where he 


speaks of the angels as controlling all creation. Still 
more striking is the parallelism concerning the three 
towers raised in heaven wherein dwell three daughters 
of God Hope, Piety, and Religion (a-e^aa^ocrvvrf}, and 
which are prepared by Christ for the reception of the 
righteous. Hermas in his third vision sees a tower 
raised in heaven, which is to be the habitation of the 
just ; but instead of three Virtues dwelling there, he 
makes seven, viz. Faith, Temperance, Simplicity, Know- 
ledge, Innocence, Gravity, Charity. It is strange that 
neither Hermas nor the Sibyl availed themselves of St. 
Paul's enumeration of the three theological virtues, Faith, 
Hope, and Charity. The Sibyl, however, errs widely from 
Holy Scripture and the lines of orthodoxy when fore- 
telling the adoption of certain sacred rites (vers. 76 ff.) 
which shall obtain in Messiah's time. " Thou shalt offer 
sacrifice," we read, " to the great immortal God, not 
melting with fire the grain of incense, nor slaying with 
the knife the shaggy lamb ; but, in company with all 
who share thy blood, taking woodland birds, thou shalt 
pray and let them fly, turning thine eyes to heaven, and 
thou shalt pour water in libation into the pure fire with 
these words : O Father, as the Father begat Thee, the 
Word, I send forth this bird, the swift messenger of my 
words, with holy water besprinkling Thy baptism through 
which from the fire Thou didst appear." The Greek is 
obscure, but the ceremony, consisting in letting a bird 
fly to convey prayer to heaven, is plain enough, and is a 
remnant of Judaism unknown to any Christian com- 
munity. The allusion also to the fire in the Jordan at 
Christ's baptism is evident. A paragraph concerning 


false prophets who feign themselves Hebrews, Alexandre 
calls the last gasp of expiring Judaism (vers. 132 ff.). 
It upbraids these men with magnifying the evil of the 
coming epoch, and striving to change the ancient Jewish 
discipline. They and all such shall perish, and a new 
world shall appear " in the third allotment of rolling 
years, within the first octave." This mysterious date has 
been variously interpreted, and more pains have been 
wasted on it than its importance demands. Alexandre, 
who has examined the matter with his accustomed 
diligence, decides that the writer refers to the year 350 of 
the Actiatic era, which corresponds to A.D. 380. At this 
time the final age commences, Antichrist is to appear, 
and be finally defeated ; then shall follow the last great 
convulsion, and the terrestrial reign of the pious under 
the sovereignty of Messiah, God Himself being with 
them and teaching them. 

The book ends with a curious epilogue, which is found 
somewhat watered down in the second book. In this 
the Sibyl accuses herself of various crimes, for which she 
deserves and shall receive punishment. She is not 
immortal, but will some day be slain by a shower of 
stones cast upon her by sailors passing near; and she 
concludes with the prayer : " Stone me, stone me, all ye 
wayfarers ; thus shall I live and fix my eyes on heaven." 
It is impossible to determine the reason of the introduc- 
tion of this self-accusation in this place. "We know 
nothing of its grounds, and cannot conjecture the object, 
unless it be a hostile interpolation intended to throw 
discredit on the Sibyl. 

The eighth book has been divided by editors into four 


parts, of which the first two are of earlier date than the 
rest and by a different hand. The earlier portion falls 
into the time of the Antonines, the latter is a little later. 
The writer speaks of the adopted sons of Adrian, but he 
knows no details concerning any but M. Aurelius, in 
whose time he expects the return of Nero, the fall of 
Eome, the end of the world, and the judgment. But his 
acquaintance with M. Aurelius is very superficial, as he 
represents him as avaricious, and flying to Asia in order 
to save his treasures from Nero. He must have written 
therefore between A.D. 161 and 180, during which years 
Aurelius reigned. The author of this portion is a Jew, 
as we may conclude from his continual references to the 
Old Testament and the way in which he speaks of the 
Hebrews, but one who had some acquaintance with 
Christian doctrine and writings. He is thus to be placed 
in the same category as the writer of Book v., if he is 
not to be identified with him. 

At the outset the Sibyl professes an intention of pro- 
claiming the wrath of God upon the nations and the 
approaching end of the world ; but little mention is 
made of any country but Rome, and the Sibyl's mind is 
wholly occupied with the destiny of this enemy of her 
people. The vice which she specially and eloquently 
lashes is avarice ; this sin it is which shall occasion 
Rome's downfall. After fifteen princes have reigned in 
succession, " the white-headed " Adrian shall follow, who 
shall be greatly regretted and mourned, as if the city 
itself had perished. Then, as it seems, in the time of his 
successor, Almighty God Himself shall come and judge 
the souls of the quick and dead ; but before the consum- 


mation a dragon shall cross the sea, with well-filled 
maw, and shall afflict the Eoman people. This seems 
to be a remembrance of the dragon or the beast of 
Kevelation xiii., which the Sibyl represents as coming 
from Asia with a fleet to attack and destroy guilty 
Eome, which is to be thrust down into hell. A descrip- 
tion of Hades ensues, whereon rests eternal night, where 
all earthly distinctions are abolished, where "there is 
neither slave, nor lord, nor tyrant, nor king ; " no corrupt 
judge, no libation or sacrifice, no feasting or music, no 
wrath or strife, but " one common life for all, which 
keeps them safe for the day of judgment." Another 
portent, which shall precede the return of Nero and the 
end of the world, is the appearance of the Phoenix for 
the fifth time. 1 The curious myth concerning the Phoenix 
is given in various authors. Clemens Komanus tells it 
thus : In Arabia or some other Eastern countries there is 
a bird called a Phoenix, which lives for five hundred 
years a solitary life. When it feels death approaching, 
it constructs for itself a pile of frankincense, myrrh, and 
other aromatic herbs, and, lying there, dies. From its 
decaying carcass a worm is engendered, which assumes 
the appearance of the deceased bird. This young Phoenix 
carries the remains of its parent to Heliopolis in Egypt, 
places them on the Altar of the Sun, and returns whence 
it came. The priests keep an accurate account of this 
event, and compute the time of its recurrence. The 
fourth appearance of the bird is said to have taken place 
in the time of Tiberius, A.D. 34, A.U.C. 787. The Sibyl's 

1 See Herod, ii. 73 ; Tacit. Ann. vi. 28 ; Plin. Nat. Hist. x. 2 ; 
Clem. Rom. 1 Ep. ad Gor. xxv. ; Tertull. De Resurr. xiii. 



reckoning is quite different, as she expects the fifth 
resuscitation, which was to coincide with the ruin of 
Eome, to occur A.U.C. 948. This would be equivalent to 
A.D. 194, or nearly, and would fall in with the reign of 
Septimius Severus. The date doubtless depends on the 
numerical value of p^w =100 4-800+48; and the 
prediction, however greatly falsified by the event, was 
the utterance of an earnest hope, expressed confidently 
in this form, in order to animate the drooping spirits of 
the subdued and disconsolate Jews. It is difficult to 
arrive at any clear view of the sequence of events in 
these last days, the writer himself having but hazy 
notions on the subject, and not arranging his details 
chronologically. There are also many gaps in the MSS., 
which, if supplied, would doubtless clear up some ob- 
scurities. As far as we can understand this mysterious 
period, the circumstances are these : l At the time that 
Anti-Messias or Nero invades the Roman empire, and before 
the destruction of Eome itself, Messiah descends from 
heaven, " the Holy King, who shall reign over Israel, and 
call the dead from their graves." He shall inaugurate a 
new Jerusalem, with a new material temple, peopled partly 
by Jews collected from all parts of the world, partly by 
the just who have been raised to life again. Against 
Him the Antichrist shall conspire in conjunction with 
certain barbarian kings ; but after various portents 
stars falling from heaven, and a great comet appearing 
he and his allies shall be defeated by an angel, and 
hurled into the abyss. And another foe, a woman, shall 
be overthrown. She is here called " the joyous," and in 
1 Thus Alexandra arranges them. 


Book iii. " the widow ; " and she shall be a powerful 
queen, exercising a cruel tyranny, in the tenth age of 
man. This woman is no historical person, certainly 
not Julia, the wife of Septimius Severus, as some have 
thought, but the one figured in Eevelation xvii., xviii., 
there certainly, here probably, representing Rome. In 
these eschatological predictions there are some differences 
from the details afforded by the previous books. In the 
fifth the empire of the Jews under Messiah was to be 
terminated by an irruption of Ethiopians, and the whole 
world was to perish owing to some sidereal catastrophe. 
The earlier part of the present book takes up the story 
after this result, and expects a renovated earth, which is 
inhabited by the just of all countries, raised to life after 
the last judgment. Further particulars concerning the 
last judgment are afforded by the next portion of this 
eighth book, which, as it has come down to us, com- 
mences with the famous acrostic on the title of Christ 
already mentioned. St. Augustine gives a Latin version 
of this, omitting the last word " stauros ; " Eusebius 
preserves the original thirty-four lines l in his account of 
Constantine's Oratio ad Sanctos, where the emperor 
quotes the verses, as a testimony to the divinity of 
Christ, uttered by the Erythraean Sibyl many centuries 
before the Christian era. The acrostic itself contains a 
description of the day of judgment and the events that 
shall succeed, and has many points of resemblance with 
the Procemium, at which we have already glanced. The 
author was a Christian, though he probably worked up 

1 In some MSS. the ninth line, representing the " E " of Chreistos, 
is absent, which shows that the spelling of the word still fluctuated. 


Jewish materials in composing his poems ; and in the 
present case, wishing to emulate the ancient Sibyl in the 
form of his oracle, he prefaced his prophecy with this 
acrostic, which has become more celebrated than its 
author could have ever expected. We may suppose that 
in his desire to give verisimilitude to his utterance he 
took words which were oftenest on the lips of Christians, 
adding Sravpcs at the end as the most venerated of 
memorials, and perhaps (as Alexandre suggests) with the 
view of making the title into a spondaic hexameter. 
Whether the author intended to carry the same form 
through the whole of the book cannot be discovered ; at 
any rate, he soon abandoned it, finishing his labour with 
the words : " This is our God, written in these acrostics, 
the Saviour, the King immortal, who suffered for us, 
whom Moses prefigured when he extended holy hands, 
by faith overcoming Amalek," etc. The acrostic ends at 
" who suffered for us ; " from thence the poem proceeds 
in the ordinary manner. It must be noted that the 
initials of the title compose the word IXOT2, " fish," 
the emblem of the Christian faith so frequently sculp- 
tured on early monuments. In the account of the great 
consummation, we are told little that is novel. Fire 
shall destroy earth, sea, and sky, and the gates of hell 
itself, and shall convict the unrighteous of guilt ; sun, 
moon, and stars shall fail, and the heavens shall be 
rolled up ; hill and valley shall be levelled, rivers shall 
be dried, and the voice of the trumpet shall summon all 
to judgment. The Cross shall be seen in the sky. The 
closing lines of the acrostic concerning the Cross are 
remarkable. It is called the sign, the notable seal for 


all men, expressions which recall our Lord's words in 
Matt. xxiv. 30: " then shall appear the sign of the Son 
of man in heaven," and St. Paul's in 2 Cor. i. 22 and 
Eph. 1. 13, where he speaks of believers being "sealed," 
though not with the Cross, nor with the sign of the 
Cross (as some Eoman Catholic expositors take it), but 
with the Holy Spirit. Further, it is named " the much- 
desired horn," which seems to be an interpretation of the 
phrase " horn of David " in Ps. cxxxi. ' 1 7 and Luke 
i. 6 9 ; and it is said to be " the life of the pious, but an 
offence to the world," in agreement with the language of 
St. Paul (Gal. v. 11), where he speaks of "the offence of 
the Cross." Then follows a curious verse, " which en- 
lighteneth the elect with water by twelve springs." This 
is explained to refer to the mission of the twelve apostles, 
which, as it were, originated from the Cross ; but the 
writer seems to insinuate that the office of baptizing was 
committed to the twelve apostles alone, and presumably 
to their successors, an opinion which he repeats again 
below (ver. 271), and which was not common in any 
section of the Church. He ends by terming the Cross 
" the rod of iron which tends and rules the flock," ex- 
pressions which may come from Ps. ii. 9 or Kev. ii. 
27. It is interesting to find this adaptation of scrip- 
tural figures to the Cross at this early age ; later, of 
course, nothing is more common. 

From the remaining portions of this poem we obtain 
some further glimpses of primitive eschatology. First, 
we meet here with the use of the word "judgment" for 
Christ's first advent into the world. The first judgment, 
in this view, is the Incarnation, which is regarded as the 


initiation of the final judgment, perhaps with some refer- 
ence to such passages as John xvi. 11: " The prince of 
this world hath been judged," and xii. 31: " Now is the 
judgment of this world," though plainly in conflict with 
the forty-seventh verse of the same chapter : " I came 
not to judge the world." In accordance with this theory 
the Sibyls here and elsewhere speak of Christ judging the 
world " again," when they refer to the final award. Con- 
cerning the sojourn in the unseen world, we are told that 
Christ went thither to carry hope to the dead saints, and 
to announce to them the end of the world. Where the 
Gospel says that, for the elect's sake, the last days shall 
be shortened, our present text affirms that God has given 
men seven ages for repentance " by the hand of the holy 
Virgin," i.e. at her intercession. These words are allowed 
to be an interpolation, but of how early a date it cannot 
be determined. Certainly any such doctrine is centuries 
later than this Oracle ; and, as Alexandre remarks, the 
Sibyllines always represent the final consummation as 
close at hand, and any postponement of this event for 
seven ages is quite alien from their view. A similar 
interpolation (probably the work of the writer of the 
preface) occurs in Book ii. 312; and with the same view 
of honouring the Virgin Mary a very clumsy alteration 
has been made in Book i. 359, where, in the accounts of 
the miracle of the five loaves and the five thousand, the 
glosser has changed the words, which he has quoted from 
Book viii. 275 ff., "the fragments shall fill twelve baskets, 
hope for the peoples" into, "for the holy Virgin" as if 
the remains were reserved by Christ for His mother's 


Before quitting this portion of the book, we may 
observe that the writer firmly believes in baptismal 
regeneration. Christ, he says (vers. 314 ff.), rose from 
the dead that the elect, " washed in the waters of the 
immortal fount, and born again (ava<yevvr)6evTe<; avcoOev), 
might no longer serve the lawless customs of the world." 
He supposes that the saints in glory will wear crowns of 
thorns like their Master. He sees in the rending of the 
temple's veil and the supernatural darkness at the 
Crucifixion an intimation that the old law was no 
longer to be observed by men hitherto blinded by the 
deceits of the world. He considers that in the creation 
of man the Father says to the Son, " Let us make man," 
taking Him as' His counsellor (crv^ouXo?) not only in 
the creation, but also in the redemption of the same. " I 
with my hands will make him, Thou hereafter shalt 
heal him with the word" (ver. 267). Thus in the 
ancient document called the " Epistle to Diognetus " 
.(chap, viii.), it is said that the Father communicated His 
wise counsel concerning man to His Son alone. In 
Christ's hands extended on the cross the writer recognises 
the comprehension of the whole world in the benefits of 
the Passion ; in the wounds in His hands and feet he 
finds a representation of the four quarters of the globe as 
being concerned in His death. He puts into the mouth 
of God some lines which are quoted by Herodotus (i. 47) 
as a Delphic oracle : " I know the number of the sands, 
the measure of the sea. I understand the dumb, and 
hear the silent speak ; " and he makes Him, in com- 
manding men to show charity to their fellows, direct that 
they feed the hungry with vegetable food, " a table pure 


and of unbloody food/' whence it is argued that the 
author belonged to the TherapeutaB, one of whose dis- 
tinguishing peculiarities was abstention from animal 
diet. 1 

The next portion of this book is a hymn in praise of 
God the Father and God the Son, and cannot be regarded 
as an oracle ; it is probably of the same authorship as the 
former parts, and its date is the same, or a little later. 
Like the writer of the last section, this poet makes the 
creation of the world and man the joint work of the 
Father and the Son, or the Logos, and speaks of man 
being made like to the form (pop^rf) of God. He then 
proceeds to note the message of Gabriel and the In- 
carnation of Christ : " Eeceive, virgin, God in thy 
immaculate bosom." The visit of the wise men is 
mentioned, and there the narrative part of the poem 
abruptly breaks off, the rest of the section being lost. 
This doubtless contained an account of the life and 
actions of Christ, and the foundation of the Church, 
merging naturally into an argument concerning Christian 
doctrine and ethics. The fragment with which the book 
closes contains a portion of the latter subject, and is 
written in language of no mean order. The author pro- 
fesses himself a Christian, and, in opposition to the 
heathendom still prevalent, announces that he and his 
brethren are bound to live a holy life, to serve God, to 
love their neighbour as themselves. They frequent not 
temples, offer not prayers or libations to statues, nor deck 
their altars with flowers, nor adorn them with lights. 
They hang not the walls with costly gifts, nor offer 
1 Philo, De Vii. Contempt. 9 (vol. ii. 483). 


incense, nor sacrifice animals ; but in happy concord, 
with pure and cheerful hearts, they worship God, delight- 
ing in continual feasts of love (agapce) and generous 
offerings, praising God with psalm and hymn. This 
is a beautiful picture of primitive Christian worship, 
confirmed by other notices, and quite in accordance with 
the simplicity of early times. 

The next piece of the Oracles is composed of Books i. 
and ii., and as Ewald thinks, the first portion of Book 
iii. vers. 1-96, though Alexandre sets this fragment as 
the production of the author of the anonymous preface, 
and written by a monk in Justinian's time ; but it is 
more probably of a composite character, and derived from 
more than one source. It may be divided into two 
sections, vers. 135, and vers. 3696. The whole piece 
is of Christian origin, and for the most part of orthodox 
character, though containing some trace of Origen's 
opinions, and it is to be referred to the third century. 
It has been compiled and arranged in its present form by 
some later hand, which has also contributed some prose 
interpolations to connect the various fragments of which 
the work is composed. Indications of its date are afforded 
in various passages. Thus in ii. 45 ff., ii. 63 ff., there is 
mention of the persecutions which were being carried on, 
and the constancy of the martyrs, and this could refer to 
nothing subsequent to Diocletian (A.D. 302), and from 
the expressions used is considered to allude to something 
of earlier date. The doctrine of Universalism, which is 
found in Origen's works, in the middle of the third 
century, is brought forward in more than one passage of 
this piece. 


The first book sketches the history of the world from 
the Creation to the Flood, and subsequently up to the 
second generation after Noah, and passes on to the 
advent of Christ, His life, death, and resurrection, the 
foundation of the Church, and the dispersion of the 
Jews. The second book takes up the story, and 
prophesies of events to the end of the world. The writer 
for the most part keeps close to the Mosaic account, but 
occasionally differs from it either in details or by additions. 
Thus he makes Noah send from the ark on the third 
occasion a bird of black plumage, which remained on the 
earth and returned no more ; he considers Noah's sojourn 
in the ark to have lasted only forty-one days ; and he 
introduces God as commanding Noah to preach repentance 
unto the Antediluvians, and gives the discourse of the 
patriarch in full. Friedlieb notes that Theophilus 1 
derives the name, if not the legend, of Deucalion from 
the first words of Noah's warning on this occasion, which 
he gives in these words : Sevre, /caXel vfjuas o #eo<? ei<? 
fjuerdvoiav. That Noah is called by St. Peter (2 Pet. ii. 
5) " a preacher of righteousness " is an intimation of the 
same tradition which the Sibyl follows. Here, too, 
occurs the famous enigma on the name of God, which has 
exercised the minds of scholars for some centuries, and 
still awaits satisfactory solution (vers. 141 ff.). It is 
not worth while to waste time upon it, as the numbers 
given are uncertain, and differ in some manuscripts, and 
their interpretation is only conjectural. The griphus is 
supposed, with some appearance of probability, to mean 
1 Ad Autol iii. p. 129. 


We give it here in the original, as it would 
be spoiled by translation : 

%<>>' reTpotav^'Aoto; sifti' von fte' 

Oil TCpUTOil Bt/0 l ypX l U l U,OiT ) %OVa<U SX-UffTYJ) 

j Be roc, AO/THX, xoil tialu oLtytovct, B irivrs' 
rov TTOCVTO; S' oipidpov kx&TO'JTx'be; tial $1$ OXTCJ, 
x.ctl rpsig Tplg (cil. ^lg) SsxaBgf, avv y 7ndt. 

The last words are intended to represent the numerical 
value of the enigmatical name. There is another riddle 
on the name 'I^o-oO? in this book (vers. 326 ff.), which is 
plain enough. The appellation, it is said, is composed of 
four vowels and one consonant twice repeated, and its 
numerical value in 888. The number of generations 
between Adam and Noah in the Sibyl's history does not 
correspond with the Mosaic account, the former making 
only five, the latter ten to intervene. But our author 
seems to have depended on Hesiod as well as Moses, and 
to have endeavoured to combine heathen mythology with 
Biblical history. According to him, the second genera- 
tion consisted of a race called Gregori, who are named in 
the Book of Enoch Egregori, equivalent to the Nephilim 
of Genesis, a race between men and angels ; but the 
Sibyl does not countenance the notion of these having 
anv connection with the daughters of men. She figures 
the fifth generation as that of giants, and Noah as one of 
their progeny. That a Christian with the Old Testament 
before him should deliberately foist into the inspired 
record legends of no authority, and often contradictory of 
Holy Writ, is a strange anomaly, but one which can be 
paralleled by the treatment which the Bible experiences 
at the hands of theologians in modern times, who place 


floating myths in the same category with Biblical stories, 
and find as much truth in a heathen fable as in a 
scriptural narrative. The remainder of the book is not 
open to the same objection as the preceding portion, 
being founded on the New Testament, and keeping 
pretty accurately to the details therein narrated. The 
writer quotes St. Matthew v. 17: "He shall fulfil the 
law of God, and not destroy it" (ver. 332, and 
refers to St. John iii. 3 in the words, " being born again," 
ryevvrjOevTcs avwOev, though he certainly errs in ascribing 
this effect to the baptism of John the Baptist (ver. 340). 
He calls Christ (ver. 345) " the fair stone," against which 
the people of Israel shall stumble. This is evidently a 
remembrance of 1 Pet. ii. 6, 8 : "I lay in Zion a chief 
corner-stone, elect, precious, ... a stone of stumbling 
and a rock of offence ; " and the statement that Jesus 
goes to Hades to preach to the dead (ver. 378) is derived 
from the famous passage in 1 Pet. iii. 

The second book takes up the story where the first 
left it, and foretells the events that shall happen from 
the time of the overthrow of the Jewish polity to the 
end of the world. It contains many lines attributed to 
the gnomic poet Phocylides, and a long fragment of the 
spurious Troirj^a vovOerucov which passes under his name. 
Alexandre has shown that Phocylides' verses had become 
a text-book in the Alexandrian schools, where his gnomes 
were committed to memory, and formed the groundwork 
of ethical teaching from the time of Ptolemy Phila- 
delphus. Many of these lines found their way into the 
earlier Sibylline books, and were adapted to Jewish 
doctrine. The " carmen suasorium " here introduced by 


the Sibylline author may have been founded upon the 
words of the original poet ; but it has suffered so many 
alterations and additions at the hands of Jewish and 
Christian manipulators that it is impossible to consider 
it as in any real sense the composition of Phocylides. 
The fragment is introduced to explain wherein Christian 
virtues consist, and what must be the lives of those who 
shall attain to the reward of Messiah's kingdom. The 
contents of the book are briefly these : After the disper- 
sion of the Jews there shall ensue a general corruption 
in the world, and tumults and wars, in the course of 
which Borne shall be overthrown and idolatry abolished ; 
then shall good men have opportunity of showing their 
virtues and triumphing over evil. Great calamities and 
portents presage the last times, e.g. the appearance of 
Belial or Antichrist, the return of the twelve tribes, the 
coming of Elijah from heaven. The last judgment 
follows, with the punishment of the wicked and the 
felicity of the righteous. 

In this book, a great part of which is derived from 
others of the Oracles, there are some points to be 
remarked. Before the great consummation a star is to 
be seen for some days in the sky, as a signal for those 
who earnestly contend for the faith. The contest then 
begun is well called (ver. 39) a " ludus iselasticus," one, 
that is, where the conqueror is carried in triumph through 
a breach in the city walls to the temple of the guardian 
deity. 1 In the fragment from Phocylides there are many 
passages introduced from the Gospels, one also from 
Tobit (iv. 16) : " Clothe the naked, give of thy bread to 
1 Plin. Ep. x. 119. 


the hungry;" and from James (ii. 13): "Mercy saveth 
from death, when judgment comes," and from Acts 
(xxi. 25): "Eat not blood, and abstain from things 
offered to idols." Among the portents which shall pre- 
cede the last day, and which are mostly the same as 
those named in our Lord's discourse, occurs one that is 
strange to Christian ears, and is derived from a heathen 
source, viz. the birth of children with grey hair. 1 An- 
other prodigy, mentioned also elsewhere, is the inter- 
change of seasons ; a third is the cessation of parturition 
among women. This last omen is cited by Clemens 
Alex. 2 as contained in the apocryphal " Gospel of the 
Egyptians." The appearance of Beliar has been already 
mentioned. This name of Antichrist is derived from St. 
Paul's use of it (2 Cor. vi. 15) as a designation for 
Satan, and it is found in the Testaments of the Twelve 
Patriarchs. The return of the rest of the Hebrews from 
Assyria is expected also by the writer of the Second (iv.) 
Book of Esdras, who says (chap. xiii. 40 ff.) that in the 
latter time they shall cross the Euphrates, coming from 
a distant land, and settle once. more in their own country. 
The Tishbite shall come from heaven in a chariot, not to 
"restore all things" (Matt. xvii. 11), but rather as a sign 
of the destruction of this world. Then the four arch- 
angels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel shall 
bring from Hades all the souls of men to the tribunal of 
God, who shall clothe them again with flesh and bones. 
And all shall pass through the probationary fire, from 
which the just shall emerge purified and saved, but the 
wicked shall perish therein. This last opinion is after- 
1 Hes. "E. K*I 'H. 179. 2 Strom, iii. 6 (p. 532). 


wards modified. The " ignis probatorius " is a notion 
derived from 1 Cor. iii. 13 ff., and is acknowledged by 
Augustine, Lactantius, and other early writers. 1 The 
Sibylline writer seems to hold that this fire will destroy 
the whole world at the same time that it will try every 
man's work. From it the just shall be borne on angels' 
hands to a land where the blessings promised to Canaan 
shall be realised to the full, and one unending day of 
happiness shall reign. And in their own felicity the 
saints shall think of the misery of the cursed, and God 
shall hearken to their prayers, and save some from the 
pains of hell. The author does not, like Origen, believe 
in universal salvation. His words are these (vers. 3 3 5 ff.) : 
" Having chosen out the stedfast " (eva-radeis, probably, 
those who have endured the fire) " from the unwearied 
flame, and removed them in safety, He shall send them 
among His own people to another and immortal life." 
This notion of the salvation of any of the condemned is, 
as we have seen, opposed to the sentiments elsewhere 
expressed, especially in vers. 309 ff. of this book, where, 
in picturing the torments of hell, the writer asserts that 
there is no place for repentance or mercy or hope. The 
statement in the text appeared so dangerous and erron- 
eous to the editor of the Oracles in the sixth century 
that he introduced a refutation of the opinion, composed 
by himself in some execrable iambics, which Fabricius 
has thus translated : 

Haec falsa perspicue : nee unquam desinet 
Ille impiorum tortor ignis fervidus. 
Optarem et ipse equidem ista sic contingerent, 

1 Aug. De Civil, xx. 18. 25, xxi. 26 ; Lact. Div. Inst. vii. 21. 


Qui maximis maculis inustus criminum 
Deformor ipse, queis plus gratia est opus. 
Verum erubesce, nugigerule Origenes, 
Qui desituras esse poenas dictitas. 

The remainder of this portion of the Oracles, which is 
made up of the first section of Book iii., begins with an 
exhortation to the Gentiles to turn from idols to the 
worship of the true God, where we may note that the 
mention of cats and serpents as objects of adoration 
places the author at once in Egypt. It then proceeds to 
speak of the fall of Eome and the eternal kingdom of 
Christ, preceded by the appearance of Beliar. In former 
books we have seen the expectation of the return of Nero 
as the great enemy of God's Church ; in these later 
writings we hear no more of this particular phenomenon, 
but the Antichrist is announced as the devil personified. 
He is to come from the people of Sebaste (which was the 
name given to Samaria when rebuilt by Herod the Great), 
owing doubtless to the prediction in Gen. xlix. 1 7 : 
" Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the 
path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall 
fall backwards." Eabbinical interpretation saw in this a 
reference to Antichrist, and the Fathers adopted the 
view. Samaria, indeed, appertained to Ephraim, not 
Dan ; but national hatred overlooked this slight dis- 
crepancy, and satisfied itself by teaching that the hated 
race was to give birth to this Enemy. If we can identify 
Dan with Sebaste, we can more easily see why this place 
is singled out for its bad pre-eminence. This tribe had 
become a by-word for idolatry, and the serpent, which 
was its emblem, represented the power of evil. It is 


thus excluded from the tribes of Israel whose elect are 
sealed in Eev. vii. ; and St. Gregory could write : 1 " Some 
say that Antichrist is coming out of the tribe of Dan, 
because Dan is asserted to be a serpent and a biting one. 
Whence also in the partition of the camp, Dan most 
rightly pitched his camp to the north, signifying him in 
truth who had said in his heart, ' I will sit upon the 
mount of the testament, in the side of the north : I will 
be like the Most High'" (Isa. xiv. 13 f.). This Beliar 
will show forth signs and wonders, will level mountains, 
stop the tides, quench sun and moon, raise the dead, and 
by these lying wonders deceive even the elect Hebrews, 
as well as Gentiles who know not the law. Then all the 
world shall fall under the sway of a widow woman, as 
we have seen in Book viii., but who or what she is, is a 
mystery as yet unsolved. Friedlieb takes her to be 
Cleopatra ; Ewald holds that she is Julia Domna, the 
widow of Septimius Severus, and mother of Caracalla 
and Geta. But she is evidently intended to be, not a 
historical character, but a mythical personage, whose 
existence is imagined, as has been already noticed, from 
some hazy remembrance of a scene in the Apocalypse of 
St. John. Her dominion, and that of Beliar, shall be 
brought to an end by God Himself, who shall rain 
destructive fire upon His enemies, " and then shall the 
judgment of the mighty God come to pass in the midst 
of the mighty age when all these things have fallen out." 
The last piece of our Oracles consists of Books xi., xii., 
xiii., xiv., Books ix. and x. being either wholly lost or 
else once contained in some of the other books (probably 
1 Moral, xxxi. 24. 


in Book viii.), afterwards differently arranged. This 
portion was that which was latest found and edited, and 
is last in merit as in date. Alexandre sets it as written 
by an Alexandrian Jew about the time of Gallienus and 
Odenathus, A.D. 264. Friedlieb considers Book xi. to 
have been composed by an Egyptian Jew in Trajan's 
days, the others by Christians about the middle of the 
third century. Ewald places some of them as late as 
A.D. 650, and sees in them traces of an opposition to 
Mohammedanism ; but this opinion will not stand 
against a closer examination. The author is undoubtedly 
a Jew, who, by mixing with Christians, has learned 
some of their opinions, and modified some of his own. 
Thus he speaks (xii. 30 ff.) of the time when a luminous 
star appeared at mid-day above the brightness of the sun 
as synchronising with the coming of " the Word of the 
Most High, wearing flesh like (O/JLOIOV) to that of mortals." 
And in another passage he tells how in the time of 
Augustus "the Word of the great immortal God came 
upon earth." But generally he shows himself a true 
Hebrew, with most of the prejudices of his nation. The 
date of the composition is about the middle of the third 
Christian century, and it seems to have been the work 
or composition of a single author. We need not delay 
long on these poems, as they consist mainly of plagiarisms 
from former oracles, and, where original, contain crude 
accounts of past and senseless conjectures concerning 
future events which time has completely falsified, and 
which are only interesting if they can be considered to 
represent current opinion at the period when and in the 
place where they were composed. They profess to 


embrace the whole history of man from the Deluge to 
the time of Aurelian, and contain some difficulties which 
are probably impossible of solution, and are certainly not 
worth the labour that commentators have bestowed upon 
them, as they doubtless arise either from the writer's 
ignorance, or from a vivid imagination which has played 
havoc with history, chronology, and geography. Such as 
they are, they present some few points worthy of notice. 
We meet with that continual confusion in the names of 
Eastern nations with which the Christian Fathers have 
familiarised us, so that Parthians, Persians, Medes, and 
Assyrians are used almost interchangeably. Solomon is 
said to have secured the submission of the Assyrians, 
and induced them to receive the law of God. Homer, 
whom earlier Sibyls have treated with scant respect, is 
here called the wisest of men, and the great instructor of 
the world. But he is said to have lived after the rise of 
the Parthian kingdom. The computation followed in 
counting the years of Rome differs from that in ordinary 
use. Instead of tajdng A.u.c. 725 as the date of Augustus, 
the writer deliberately adopts A.U.C. 620, probably with 
the view of saving the credit of some prediction con- 
cerning the fall of Rome which had not occurred at the 
specified time. The account of the emperors of Rome 
from Augustus onwards is full of mistakes and un- 
historicar details. Among the better authenticated 
circumstances is found the story of the " Legio Fulmina- 
trix," attested also by Christian and heathen authors. 1 
The Sibyl, however, makes the marvel due to the piety 

1 Tertull. Apol. v. p. 63 ; Ad Scap. iv. p. 87 ; Euseb. Eccl. Hist. v. 5 ; 
Greg. Nyss. Or. XI. in XL. Mart. ; Oros. vii. 15 ; Dio Cass. Ixxv. 8. 


and prayers of Aurelius himself, not to those of the 
Christians in his army ; and this was the view taken by 
the Koman court and the Gentile world generally. A 
proper appreciation of Nero's character is shown, who 
is called " a double pest," in allusion to his deeds as 
emperor and as Antichrist ; but Domitian is highly 
lauded, and the whole world is said to have loved and 
honoured him a proof, if one was needed, that no man 
is so bad but some will be found to regret his loss. The 
prediction concerning the final destruction of Eome is 
similar to one which has been already noticed in an 
earlier book. The catastrophe is to occur in the 948th 
year a number obtained by taking the numerical value 
of the name in Greek. The author must have written 
just before the death of Odenathus, king and priest of 
Palmyra, A.D. 271, which, according to Sibylline com- 
putation, would be A.u.c. 920, and thus the fall of Eome 
was to happen only twenty -eight years afterwards. But 
the whole reckoning is utterly inconsistent, as in Book 
xiv. a long series of princes is introduced between 
Aurelian and the destruction of Eome, which would 
have occupied some centuries. This calamity is not, in 
these last books, always connected with the appearance 
of the Anti-Messias. This personage is more vaguely 
described than previously. He is no longer Nero, nor 
Beliar, but " that man," " the warrior," some mysterious, 
unknown person, who was to bring untold evils on the 
world. Some of the circumstances formerly ascribed to 
Nero are here assigned to Cyriades, the mock emperor 
set up by Sapor, king of Persia ; and there are certain 
details about this tyrant which have been neglected by 


historians, but which, coming from a contemporary, have 
doubtless a basis of truth. Palmyra is named " the city 
of the sun, 3 ' and Odenathus, as its king and priest, is 
called " the sun-sent warrior." That it was besieged by 
the Persians and defended by Odenathus is a fact not 
otherwise supported in the history of these times, though 
very probable in itself. It is curious, and corroborative 
of the date of the composition, that as the author 
approaches his own times, he abandons the use of easy 
alphabetical and numerical riddles in naming the em- 
perors, and in their stead employs animals to designate 
royal or celebrated personages. Thus Sapor is a serpent, 
Valerian and his son are bulls, Macrianus is a stag, 
Balista a goat, Odenathus a lion. This change in indica- 
tion seems to show that discretion was needed in making 
remarks on contemporaries. In the prophecies concern- 
ing the future, which could offend no one living, the 
former plan of designating princes by the initials of 
their names is resorted to, with the result that we are 
presented with a number of puzzles which are incapable 
of solution, and which, if solved, would only show the 
utter absurdity of the whole series. Out of the in- 
extricable confusion of this pretended vaticination Ewald 
has attempted to produce some meaning by assigning the 
book to the seventh century, and endeavouring to find 
the names of Roman and Byzantine emperors under the 
enigmatical designations of the poem. The attempt is 
decidedly a failure, as the list of princes has evidently no 
historical basis, and has been evolved from the fervid 
imagination of the writer, whose insane ambition of acting 
the prophet has led him into ridiculous errors. Of Ewald's 


ingenious theory Alexandre speaks thus : " Ita vir summus, 
quod in vario incepto necesse erat, nihil profecit, nisi ut 
novam sibi laudem, Sibyllinae rei lucem nullam afferret." 

The common opinion, that after Christ's advent the 
heathen oracles became silent and ceased to be consulted, 
is refuted by this Sibyl, who more than once refers to 
the answers lately given by their media. That their 
credit had greatly diminished, and that the ancient 
shrines, were less frequented for fatidical purposes in 
the first Christian century, is true enough ; but super- 
stition dies hard, and we may take the Sibyl's testimony 
as true, that up to the close of the third century oracles 
in Greece itself and in the islands, in Cilicia and else- 
where in Asia, were still consulted, and their responses 
obtained some credit. Indeed, we know from history 
that Titus, Adrian, and even Constantine himself were 
not above inquiring at the mouth of a soothsaying 
priestess. There was no reason in the nature of things 
why one author should not add his contribution to the 
Oracles then extant, little foreseeing how soon it would 
be made a criminal offence to have recourse to such 
means of divination. And though for a short time this 
enactment was abrogated by the Emperor Julian, who, on 
the eve of his expedition against the Persians, consulted 
all existing oracles, yet it was soon reimposed and enforced, 
and thus at length Delphic utterances were silenced. 

The latter part of this final book is taken up with an 
account of the disputes between the Greeks and Jews 
dwelling at Alexandria. The latter were a very strong 
body, amounting to one-third of the whole population, 
and living in a separate quarter of the city. After 


many conflicts peace is established between the two 
rival communities, and then begins a time of happiness, 
which is described in glowing terms, such as are generally 
used in picturing the reign of Messiah. But there is no 
such reference in this book ; and it is worthy of notice 
that the promised felicity should assume this novel form. 
After the prosperous period at Alexandria shall have en- 
dured for some long indefinite time, " the harvest of men " 
shall arrive, and the dead being recalled to life, a new 
state of things shall be introduced. " The holy nation 
shall reign supreme in all the earth under the eternal rule 
of its ancient worthies." This is a remarkable statement, 
as it is deliberately altered from that in Books viii. and 
iii., where the advent and dominion of a " holy king " is 
announced ; and it seems in part to favour the notion of 
the earlier sect of Zealots, who would have no monarch 
except Jehovah to reign over them ; but it introduces an 
innovation, as it foretells for the Hebrews a kind of re- 
public, of which the presidents should be Abraham and 
Moses, and other celebrated leaders risen from the dead. 
Such is a brief account of the Sibylline Oracles. 
From what has been said it will be clear that they are 
to be regarded as literary productions, assuming the form 
of predictions, and taking the place of the lost books, 
but possessed of no claim to inspiration, conscious or 
unconscious, and intended to give a fictitious support to 
tenets which the pagans would receive with disfavour. 
The historical portion, which forms two- thirds of the 
whole collection, contains very little that is really 
valuable, though there are doubtless some additionary 
details which may be authentic, though otherwise un- 


supported. But the difficulty of severing the true from 
the mythical renders such paragraphs almost useless. 

There are many allusions to the facts mentioned in 
the Gospels in these post - Christian " Oracles," but 
scarcely any additions to the matters narrated therein 
The most notable is the story of the fire kindled in 
Jordan when our Lord was baptized, a legend which is 
also mentioned by Justin Martyr (Dial. 88), and (though 
under a different tradition) in the Ebionite Gospel. 
Justin writes : " When Jesus came to the river Jordan, 
where John was baptizing, and descended into the water, 
both a fire was kindled in the Jordan, and when He 
came up out of the water the apostles of our Christ 
recorded that the Holy Spirit as a dove lighted upon 
Him." The Sibyl, as we saw above, thus alludes to the 
same event : " When, in the flesh which was given Him, 
He came forth, having bathed in the stream of the river 
Jordan, which rolls, sweeping on its waves with grey 
foot, He, escaping from the fire, first shall see the sweet 
Spirit of God coming upon Him with the white wings of 
a dove." Nothing else of moment as an addition to the 
Christian story is noticeable ; and the variations in the 
histories derived from the Old Testament are only such 
as are found in the Targums and other apocryphal 
Jewish authorities. The " Oracles," indeed, are valuable 
only as showing the development and modifications of 
thought at the momentous period covered by their pro- 
duction. Jew and Christian alike availed themselves of 
heathen sibyllism for some four or five centuries, and 
the result is shown in the heterogeneous collection which 
has reached us under the general title of Sibylline Oracles. 



Abraham, 213 ff., 218, 221. 
Acrostic, 288, 323 f. 
Adam, 146, 208 f. 

life of, 195. 

Age, present and future, the, 10 ff. 
Alexandria, 342. 

Angels, evil, 21 f., 58 f., 94, 227. 
Angels, fall of, 22, 57 f., 148. 
Angels, good, 20 f., 61, 93 f., 227 f. 
Antichrist, 22, 313, 319, 322, 334, 

336, 340. 
Antiochus Epiphanes, 116 f., 297, 


Antonines, the, 310 f., 320. 
Apocalypse, the, 85. 
Apocalyptic works, 7 ff. 
Apocryphal works, 5. 
Archangels, 20 f., 58, 61, 94, 160. 
Archontici, 246. 
Aristobulus, 37 f. 
Asher, 174. 
Asmoneans, 112. 
Assumption of Moses, the, 7, 21, 

95 ff. 

Atonement, day of, 226, 229. 
Azazel, 21, 58. 


Babylon, 309, 310. 
Balkira, 250 f. 

Baptism, 303, 325, 327, 332. 
Bar-Cocheba, 116, 181. 
Baruch, Apocalypse of, 7, 130ff. 
Baruch, Book of, 132 f., 137. 
Beast, the, 261. 
Behemoth, 155. 

Beliar, 22, 168, 249, 334, 337. 
Benjamin, 176. 
Berial, 249, 260 f. 

Canaanites, 231. 

Cerinthians, 187, 316. 

Christ, 17 f., 41, 89, 184 f., 254, 

262 f., 270, 315 f., 317, 328, 332. 
Christ, baptism of, 186, 188, 315, 

318, 343. 

Christ, descent of, 165, 188, 262. 
Christology, 89, 257 f. 
Chronology, 218 f., 223, 319, 322, 

Cross, the, 316, 324 f. 

Dan, 172, 336 f. 
Daniel, Book of, 82, 85. 
Dead, prayer for the, 335. 
Diocletian, 329. 
Docetism, 256. 
Domitian, 145, 340. 


Ebionites, 179, 316. 
Ecclesiastes, Book of, 2. 
Eden, Garden of, 93, 208 f., 216. 
Edom, kings of, 224. 
Elijah, Apocalypse of, 247, 

return of, 334. 

Enoch, 210 f. 

Enoch, Book of, 7, 49ff., 180, 198f., 




Esau, 182. 

Eschatology, 22, 91, 229, 297 f., 

306, 313 f., 322 ff., 333. 
Esdras, Fourth Book of, 5, 7, 136 f., 


Essenes, the, 122, 203. 
Evolution of Christianity, the work 

so called, 85 ff. 

Festivals, the Jewish, 206, 215. 
Fire, the proving, 334 f. 
Flood, the, 63 f., 66, 146, 218, 317, 


Gad, 174. 

Gentiles, 23, 154, 156, 179, 230, 


Gnosticism, 267, 269, 273. 
Gods, heathen, 289 f., 292. 
Gog and Magog, 295, 301. 
Grace before meat, 303. 
Greece, 295 f. 


Hades, 60, 279, 321. 
Haggadistic writings, 8 f. 
Heathen, fate of, 128f. 
Heavens, the, 161, 246, 254 f., 267. 
Hebrew language, the, 201, 228. 
Hebrews, Epistle to the, 240 ff. 
Herod the Great, 113. 
Herodian Princes, 115. 
Hezekiah, 259. 
Hieracas, 246. 
History in type, 145 f. 
Homer, 302, 339. 
Hyrcanus, 37, 77, 112. 


Idolatry, 290 f. 
Isaiah, Ascension of, 7, 236 ff. 
Isaiah, death of, 240 f., 249 f., 267. 
Israel, supremacy of, 230. 
Israelites, history of, 67, 109 f., 

146 f., 219 f., 293 ff. 
Issachar> 171. 

Jacob, 173, 209 f., 232. 
Jannseus, Alexander, 37. 
Jechoiiiah, 133, 141. 
Jeremiah, 141. 
Jerusalem, 187 f., 317.' 

destruction of, 133, 138, 141 f. 


the heavenly, 160 f., 190, 313. 

Jesus, 316. 

Jews, prosperity of, 312, 342. 

Jonathan, 77. 

Joshua, 108, 312 f. 

Joseph, 169, 175, 183 f., 209, 218, 


Jubilees, Book of, 8, 193 ff. 
Jubilee system, the, 204f., 219, 221. 
Judah, 169, 171, 175, 182, 187. 
Judas Maccabseus, 77. 
Judas of Galilee, 119. 
Jude, quotation from Assumption 

of Moses, 95, 97, 99 f., 106. 
quotation from Enoch in, 49, 

57, 73, 83, 97, 99. 
Judgment, the final, 24 f., 40, 45, 

58, 70, 91, 159, 261, 291, 304 f., 
307, 320, 334. 

Lamb of God, the 176, 190. 
Legion, the thundering, 339 f. 
Levi, 169 f., 171, 175, 182, 187, 

209, 218, 226. 
Leviathan, 155. 

Maccabees, 77, 296, 299. 
Machpelah, 212. 
Man, son of, 62, 89 f. 
Manasseh, 244 f., 249. 
Manasses, 147f. 
Mary, the Virgin, 262. 
Mastema, 227. 
Matanbukus, 250. 
Mattatliias, 77. 
Matthias, 119. 
Mediator, the, 173. 
Melchisedek, 246. 
Messiah, 13 ff., 17, 22, 40 ff., 44, 
62, 89 f., 143, 153 f., 185 f., 297. 



Messianic hopes and theology, 23, 
43 f., 58, 62, 68 f., 79, 91 f., 142, 
151 tf., 189, 192, 296 ff., 313, 319, 

Millennium, the, 157. 159. 

Mosaic law, the, 178 f. 

Moses, 125, 213, 220. 

Moses, Apocalypse of, 196. 

Assumption of, 7, 95 ff. 

burial of, 95 ff. 


Naphtali, 173, 185. 

Natural phenomena, 65. 

Nazarenes, 179, 187. 

Nero, 22, 260, 271, 306 f., 310, 340. 

New Testament referred to, 190. 

Noah, 81 f., 209, 237 f., 330. 

Odenathus, 338, 340 f. 
Oracles, the heathen, 341 f. 

Palestine, 82 f. 
Papias, 132, 139. 
Paradise, 60, 93, 161, 290. 
Parousia, the, 129 f., 151, 187, 

229, 271, 320. 
Parthians, 80, 139. 
Passover, Feast of, 215 f. 
Patripassianism, 187. 
Paul, St., writings of, 190. 
Pentecost, Feast of, 215. 
Pharisaism, 39. 
Phocylides, 332. 
Phoenix, the, 108, 321 f. 
Phrygia, 317. 
Pistis Sophia, 28. 
Place, the holy, 211. 
Pompey, 37 ff., 114. 
Potiphar, 183. 
Prophet, the, 121, 129. ^ 
Pseudepigraphic, meaning of, 1, 

5, 6. 

writings, character of, 2 f. 

writings, number of, 4 f. 

Ptolemy Physcon, 292, 297. 


Ramiel, 146, 149. 

Repentance, 45. 

Resurrection, the, 23 f., 40, 44, 46, 

62, 69, 92, 128, 143, 156 ff., 307, 

334, 343. 
Reuben. 168. 

Revelation, how made, 149 f. 
Righteous, fate of the, 57, 63, 69 f., 

156 ff., 189, 261, 305, 307 f., 335. 
Rome, 152, 293, 307, 308 f., 310 f., 

320, 340. 

Sabbath, 224 f., 234. 

Sadducees, 116, 215. 

Sammael, 267. 

Sapor, 340 f. 

Satan, 21, 94, 227, 249. 

Sebaste, 336. 

Seven, the number, 221 f. 

Sbeol, 92 f. 

Shepherds, the seventy, 67 f., 74 ff. 

Sibylla, 276 f., 289, 294. 

Sibylline Oracles, 9, 276 ff. 

Simeon, 169, 182. 

Sin, original, 150 f. 

Solomon, Psalter of, 6, 25 ff. 

Solomon, Wisdom of, 1, 6. 

Soul, immortality of, 228 f. 

Spirit, angel of the, 257, 260, 262. 

Spirit, the Holy, 189 f., 246, 298. 

Stars, the disobedient, 59 f. 

State, the intermediate, 93. 

Symbolical representations, 66 f. 

Tabernacles, feast of, 215, 235. 
Tablets, the heavenly, 65, 69, 70. 
Taxo, 118 ff. 

Testaments, Apocryphal, 8. 
Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs, 

8, 162 ff., 199. 
Theocracy, 123, 128 f. 
Therapetitfe, 328. 
Tiberius, 309. 
Time, how divided, 10. 
Torment, place of, 71. 
Trajan, 145. 
Tree of life, 60. 




Universalism, 329, 335. 
Ur, 212. 
Uriel, 149. 

Varus, 113 f. 
Vesuvius, 302, 306. 
Vine, legend of, 132. 

W ' 

Weeks, apocalyptical, 69, 91, 145. 
Wicked, fate of the, 46 f., 57, 70, 
158, 162, 307, 335. 

Wisdom of Solomon, the, 1, 6. 
Woman, the mystical, 322, 337. 
World, end of the, 141, 145. 

Years, the seventy, 75, 111. 

Zabulus, 121. 

Zealots, the, 105, 109, 112 f., 119, 

123, 127 f., 343. 
Zebulon, 172, 183. 


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